Anorexia Nervosa – Symptoms, Causes, And Treatment

Anorexia nervosa, commonly known as anorexia is an eating disorder with emotional roots. The condition is characterized by the fear of gaining weight and putting in excessive efforts to lose weight. Victims of this eating disorder typically associate their weight with self-worth.

In order to maintain their thinness, anorexic people may entirely ignore their health. Lack of nutrition can open the doors for several other physical ailments from heart diseases, and osteoporosis to kidney problems. It also negatively impacts one’s psychological health as one becomes depressive, anxious, and may even entertain suicidal thoughts.

Symptoms Of The Disorder

This disorder has both physical as well as behavioral symptoms. The first and foremost sign of an anorexic individual is that he is obsessed with becoming thinner, and fears weight gain. Such a person continuously puts in efforts to reduce his weight and for this purpose he may engage in excessive exercise and induce vomits after eating.

He may even start using laxatives and other such substances for the purpose of losing weight. Other signs and symptoms include an abnormal blood count, insomnia, dizziness, fatigue, constipation, abdominal pain, dehydration, irregular heartbeat, low blood pressure, yellowish skin, bluish finger tips, no menstruation, and swelled arms and legs.

Behavioral symptoms of anorexia include denial of hunger, refusing to eat, only eating foods that are low in calories and fats, avoiding eating in public, fear of weight gain, social withdrawal, complaining about being fat despite being thin, etc. It can be challenging to figure out whether or not a person has this eating disorder as anorexic individuals are good at disguising symptoms.

Causes And Risk Factors

The causes behind anorexia can be genetic, psychological or societal. However, the exact cause of the eating disorder is not known yet. Some people inherit the condition, while others have psychological problems such as OCD, anxiety, etc. which trigger anorexia. What’s more, pressure from the society to meet the standards of being pretty can also induce this eating disorder.

Risk factors for this disorder include specific genes. Dieting may also up one’s risk of developing anorexia nervosa since starvation can alter the brain’s thinking mechanism. One’s eating habits may also change because of major life transitions such as entering a new relationship, losing a job, changing a school, etc. Note that women are more at risk than men.

Treatment Options

People with anorexia may even believe that they do not require treatment. The treatment for this disorder is usually a team effort in which psychologists, therapists, nutritionists, and dietitian are involved. Medications have proved to be fruitless in the treatment of this disorder. An anorexic individual who’s life is in danger may need to be hospitalized for recovery as well.


Anorexia is an eating disorder in which a person fears weight gain and tries to appear as thin as possible. An anorexic individual has underlying emotional problems. The ailment is accompanied by several health complications and may even become life-threatening. It can be difficult to pinpoint whether a person has the eating disorder. Treatment is done by a team of professionals.