Anorexia Nervosa – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Anorexia nervosa

Anorexia is a illness which is characterized by a significant weight loss due to from excessive dieting. Most women and men are motivated by the strong desire to be thin and a fear of becoming obese. Those who are suffering with this illness have a low self-esteem and often a tremendous need to control their surroundings and emotions.

It is a severe emotional disorder that is most common, especially among young women in industrialized countries where cultural expectations encourage women to be thin. According to the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health it is an estimated that 0.5 to 3.7% of women will suffer from this disorder at some point in their lives.


The cause of anorexia nervosa is unknown, although medical researcher believes that it is due to both inherent biological factors and factors in the patient’s social environment play a part. Extreme dieting changes how the brain and metabolism work, and it stresses the body. These changes may make you more likely to develop an eating disorder.


People with anorexia typically starve themselves, even though they suffer terribly from hunger pains. Specifically, a person’s body weight needs to be 85% or less than that which is considered typical for someone of similar build, age and height.

Common symptoms are :-

* Weight loss about 18% or greater
* Inappropriate use of laxatives, enemas, or diuretics (water pills) in an effort to lose weight
* Self-imposed food intake restrictions, often hidden
* Absence of menstruation
* Skeletal muscle atrophy
* Loss of fatty tissue in the body
* Low blood pressure common in all
* Dental cavities may be present with self-induced vomiting
* Blotchy or yellow skin on hole body
* Depression may be present
* Most individuals with anorexia nervosa refuse to recognize that they have an eating disorder.


Clinical treatment may include ongoing medical care, regular therapy, nutritional counseling, and possibly medication. Eating disorders can be treated with anti-depressants; however, this is less effective for anorexia nervosa.

Marital therapy is almost always valuable when the person with anorexia nervosa is married. The primary goal of marital therapy is to strengthen the relationship.

Some anorexic patients are helped by taking medicine that makes them feel less depressed. These medicines are prescribed by a doctor and are used along with counseling.

An another type of therapy called cognitive behavior therapy is most commonly used but lacks strong evidence that it’s superior to other forms of therapy. The mental health provider can help assess the need for psychiatric hospitalization or day treatment programs.