AnorexiaAnorexia Nervosa is a condition that is diagnosed when a person refuses to maintain a normal body weight that is above or normal for body type, height and nutritional needs. In severe cases, it can lead to body weight that is less than 85% of that expected.

For instance, if a woman who is 5 feet, 6 inches tall with medium build is recommended to weigh 130 lbs, but refuses to eat enough food or exercise less until she is down to 110 lbs., this is cause to suspect developing anorexia. If the woman’s anorexia is in the early stages, the weight loss may not yet be apparent or visible.

As with any disorder that causes weight loss or nutrient loss, it is important to obtain a full medical examination to rule out other illnesses such as digestive disease or genetic issues.

Signs of Anorexia

Some anorexia signs include:

  • An intense fear of becoming fat or gaining weight, even when there is clearly no reason for the fear
  • The person will constantly evaluate his or her body as larger than it really is, and is often in denial about low body weight.
  • Signs of self-anger, overabundance of self-control or self hatred
  • The person might have eating rituals, or push food around on the plate to mimic eating, disappear quickly after eating meals or obsess over or hoard food.
  • In adult women, menstrual cycles may be lighter or missing completely

Anorexia is a serious condition and requires both medical and mental health treatment. Anorexia is so serious, in fact, that it is the number one cause of death among all mental health conditions. It is very important to note that anorexia occurs in both men and women. An estimated 15% or more of anorexia cases involve men and that number is expected to grow.

Types of Anorexia

Anorexia has two types:

  1. Restricting type: Occurs when the person restricts the diet severely, but has not regularly engaged in purging (forced vomiting or excessive laxative, diuretic or enema use) or binge eating behavior.
  2. Binge-eating–purging type: Occurs when the person regularly engages in binge-eating or purging behavior but between binge-purge episodes restricts food just like any other person with anorexia. You may have noticed that the binge-eating-purging type sounds a lot like another eating disorder, bulimia. If so, you are correct. The two are often confused. The main difference is that between binge-purge episodes the person with anorexia will return to restricting his or her diet. If the person suffers from bulimia, there are no periods of restrictive dieting.

Dangers of Anorexia

There are very serious dangers to anorexia that include:

  • Hair loss, skin lesions
  • Anorexia cardiac-arrest (usually due to electrolyte imbalance)
  • Amenorrhea (missing periods)
  • Edema
  • Digestive issues such as constipation or diarrhea
  • Tooth loss and decay
  • Early onset osteoporosis (very common)
  • Optic neuropathy (leading to blindness)
  • Brain atrophy due to brain starvation (the brain literally starves and begins to shrink and pull away from the skull)
  • Leucopenia (dangerously low white blood cell count)

Anorexia Help

As you can tell, anorexia is a very serious illness that cannot be treated without help. If you or a loved one suffers from an eating disorder, there is help. We offer a toll free 24-hour helpline to guide you and your family through healing options, treatments and plans including inpatient treatment, counseling, interventions, medical care and more. Please call us today—one phone call can save a life.

(866) 612-7509