- Anorexia nervosa and other eating disorders are both mental and physical illnesses that can affect people of all sizes.
- According to experts, eating disorder sufferers are more likely to be normal weight or overweight than emaciated, which is a common misconception that prevents many people from receiving the help they require.
- A few studies have found that one-third of adolescents hospitalized for anorexia are not underweight but still exhibit all the other symptoms of anorexia nervosa.
According to research, you can have a healthy body weight but be just as sick as someone with typical anorexia nervosa, including having the same eating and food-related thoughts.
What is anorexia nervosa?
Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder in which a person intentionally restricts their food or beverage intake due to a strong desire to be thin and a strong fear of gaining weight. Even if a person is already thin, this can happen.
Bodyweight and shape perception is distorted, and this has an undue influence on a person's self-image and self-worth. Weight loss and nutritional imbalance in such persons over a long period can result in serious complications, including death.
2 types of anorexia nervosa
- Restricting type: The individual describes presentations in which weight loss is achieved through dieting, fasting, or strenuous exercise.
- Binge-eating or purging type: The individual has a history of binge-eating or purging behavior, such as self-induced vomiting or the abuse of laxatives, diuretics, or enemas.
22 signs and symptoms of anorexia nervosa
Here are 22 signs and symptoms of anorexia nervosa:
- A low body weight is defined as a body mass index of less than 18.5 kg/m2
- Extremely restricted eating
- Extreme thinness (emaciation)
- Weight loss of 15 percent or more of body weight
- Relentless pursuit of thinness
- Fear of gaining weight if you are very thin
- Lack of menstrual periods (in women)
- Problems with digestion, energy, memory, and concentration
- Growth of fine hair all over the body
- Thinning of the bones (osteopenia or osteoporosis)
- Mild anemia and muscle wasting and weakness
- Feeling cold all the time
- Loss of sex drive
- Dental cavities
- Hair loss
- Dry skin
- Severe constipation
- Secondary female characteristics are lost, causing hips to narrow, breasts to shrink and hair loss to occur
- Nails become brittle
- Blood pressure drops to dangerous levels with the danger of fainting
- Body temperature drops so that these people often feel cold
- Their self-esteem is based on how they perceive their body weight and shape
7 causes of anorexia nervosa
Eating disorders are complicated, and experts are not sure what causes them. However, they could be the result of a combination of genetics, family behaviors, social factors, and personality traits.
7 possible causes of anorexia nervosa include:
- If you have a family history of anorexia, you are more likely to develop anorexia.
- People in the family may have other eating disorders, such as bulimia nervosa.
- You work or participate in a sport that emphasizes body size, such as ballet, modeling, or gymnastics.
- You are the type of person who strives to be perfect all the time, never feels good enough, and is constantly worried.
- You are going through a stressful life event, such as divorce, relocating to a new town or school, or losing a loved one.
- Anorexia nervosa affects approximately 90 percent of women between the ages of 12 and 25 years.
- Anorexia nervosa was previously thought to affect only upper-and middle-class families, but it is now known to affect everyone, all ages and people belonging to any socioeconomic and ethnic background.
Anorexia nervosa frequently begins as simple dieting to lose weight or eat healthier, but quickly progresses to extreme and unhealthy weight loss. Social attitudes toward body appearance, family influences, genetics, and neurochemical and developmental factors may play a role in the development and maintenance of anorexia nervosa.
What are the treatment options for anorexia nervosa?
The treatment for anorexia nervosa is usually complicated, but doctors recommend their treatment based on three main principles.
- Keeping the weight loss stable
- Beginning nutrition rehabilitation to regain a healthy weight
- Treating emotional issues, such as low self-esteem and distorted thinking patterns, as well as developing long-term, healthy behavioral changes
Treatment for anorexia nervosa entails assisting those affected to normalize their eating and weight control behaviors, as well as restoring their weight.
- A critical component of the treatment plan is the medical evaluation and treatment of any co-occurring psychiatric or medical conditions.
- The nutritional plan should focus on assisting to overcome eating anxiety and practice consuming a balanced diet with a diverse range of foods and varying calorie densities at regularly spaced meals.
- The most effective treatments for adolescents involve assisting parents to support and monitor their child's meals.
- Body dissatisfaction is important to address, but it often takes longer to correct than weight and eating habits.
- Treatment should always be based on a thorough assessment of the individual and family.
- Family therapy focuses on providing support and setting limits for problem behaviors.
- Individual therapy typically combines cognitive and behavioral techniques.
- If depressed moods or worrying thoughts interfere with daily life, medication may be beneficial.
- When outpatient treatment is ineffective for severe anorexia nervosa, admission to an inpatient or residential behavioral specialty program may be indicated.
- Most specialty programs are effective at restoring weight and normalizing eating habits, but the risk of relapse remains high in the first year after program completion.
It can be difficult to admit that you have an eating disorder. You might not even notice how thin you are. You may continue to try to lose weight. You may attempt to conceal your problem from others. However, in most cases, anorexia will not go away on its own.
Fortunately, treatment is frequently effective, but it must be started in earlier stages of the disorder. The first step is to confide in someone you have faith in. You are not alone in your struggle with anorexia.
Latest Mental Health News
Daily Health News
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Mental Health America. Can you have an eating disorder if you aren’t skinny? https://screening.mhanational.org/content/can-you-have-eating-disorder-if-you-arent-skinny/
WebMD. Anorexia Nervosa. https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/eating-disorders/anorexia-nervosa/mental-health-anorexia-nervosa
Smith M, Robinson L, Segal J. Anorexia Nervosa. HelpGuide. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/eating-disorders/anorexia-nervosa.htm
Top Can You Have Anorexia Nervosa and Not Be Skinny Related Articles
6 Types of Eating Disorders and Their SymptomsEating disorders are complex mental health conditions and not just occasional binges. They usually require extensive medical and psychological treatment for proper management. Eating disorders may be caused by several factors
Anorexia is an eating disorder characterized by markedly reduced appetite or total aversion to food. Anorexia is a serious psychological disorder and is a condition that goes well beyond out-of-control dieting. With anorexia, the drive to become thinner is actually secondary to concerns about control and/or fears relating to one's body. There are psychological and behavioral symptoms as well as physical symptoms of anorexia including: depression, social withdrawal, fatigue, food obsession, heart and gastrointestinal complications, kidney function, flaky skin, brittle nails, and tooth loss (this list is not exhaustive).
Anorexia Nervosa: Symptoms, Causes, and TreatmentAnorexia nervosa, commonly known as anorexia, is a psychological disorder in which an individual considers themselves as being overweight or controls the shape and size of a specific body part, even when they are extremely thin.
What's the Difference Between Anorexia and Anorexia Nervosa?The word "anorexia" by itself simply describes the symptom of not being able or willing to eat. This can be caused by mental illness, but also by medical problems and chemotherapy for cancer, as well as infections and other disorders. "Anorexia nervosa" is the term for someone who fits the psychological criteria for a clinical eating disorder, the main symptom of which is self-starvation.
Binge Eating DisorderCharacteristics of binge eating disorder include eating more quickly than usual, eating until uncomfortably full, eating a lot of food despite not being hungry, eating alone due to embarrassment, and feeling disgusted by overeating.
Binge Eating DisorderLearn about signs, symptoms, treatment, and recovery for this eating disorder. Get to know how binge eating affects emotional and mental health.
Binge Eating QuizDo you binge eat? Take this quick quiz to learn what binge eating is and what makes people do it.
Characteristics Of A Person With Anorexia NervosaAnorexia nervosa, commonly known as anorexia, is a psychological disorder in which an individual considers themselves as being overweight, or controls the shape and size of a specific body part, even when they are extremely thin.
What Is Compulsive Overeating vs. Binge Eating Disorder?Compulsive overeating is eating more than needed. Binge eating disorder involves recurrent episodes of compulsive eating, even when not hungry. Symptoms of bingeing include rapid eating, secret eating, and feeling guilty following a binge. Vyvanse is the only medication approved in the United States for the treatment of binge eating disorder.
What's the Difference Between Anorexia and Anorexia Nervosa?The difference between anorexia and anorexia nervosa mostly comes down to how the term 'anorexia' is used.
How Do You Feel When You Have Anorexia?Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that affects millions of people in the U.S. Learn about the signs of anorexia, what the causes are, and how it's treated.
What Are Three Long-Term Effects of Anorexia?Anorexia, also called anorexia nervosa, is a serious eating disorder that causes a strong fear of gaining weight. The three long-term affects of anorexia are hormone and growth problems, heart problems, and neurological problems.
What Causes Eating Disorders in Women?Eating disorders are common, especially among women. Learn about what causes eating disorders and how they can be treated.