About Anorexia Nervosa

The symptoms of anorexia nervosa can be severe, and even eventually deadly. Between 5-20% of individuals with anorexia nervosa will die from the condition; the probability of death increases within that range depending on the length of the condition (Zerbe, 1995). In fact, anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any mental health condition. In general, anorexia nervosa appears in early to mid-adolescence. It also disproportionately affects women.

Symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa

The symptoms of anorexia nervosa can vary depending on the length and severity of the condition. However, the following are present in all diagnosed cases:

  • Restriction of energy intake, resulting in significantly low body weight
  • Intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat (despite significantly low body weight)
  • Disturbance in the experience of body weight or shape; undue influence of weight or shape on self-evaluation, or denial of the seriousness of low body weight

Warning Signs of Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa can be tough to spot, especially in the beginning. There are, however, a few tell-tale signs:

  • Weight loss (significant or sudden)
  • Preoccupation with weight, body, food, calories, fat grams, exercise and/or dieting
  • Refusal to eat certain foods or food group
  • Distorted self-image
  • Expressed anxiety about gaining weight or being “fat”
  • Increased irritability
  • Withdrawal from friends, family and/or activities
  • Development of food rituals (e.g. eating foods in certain orders, excessive chewing, rearranging food on a plate)
  • Avoidance of meals as well as other situations involving food
  • Participation in an excessive, rigid exercise regimen
  • Limited insight into and/or denial of the above mentioned unhealthy behavioral or cognitive patterns
  • Denial of hunger

A woman deals with the symptoms of anorexia nervosa

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Health Consequences of Anorexia Nervosa

As the condition worsens, the symptoms of anorexia nervosa eventually become more severe. The following consequences can start to appear:

  • Slow heart rate and low blood pressure; the risk for heart failure increases, as heart rate and blood pressure decrease
  • Reduction of bone density (dry, brittle bones); the risk for osteoporosis/osteopenia increases as bone density decreases
  • Muscle loss and weakness
  • Dehydration (which can result in kidney failure)
  • Fainting, fatigue, and overall weakness
  • Dry hair and skin, hair loss
  • Growth of a downy layer of hair (lanugo) all over the body, including the face, in an effort to keep the body warm

Description adapted from the National Eating Disorders Association and the DSM-5.

Anorexia Nervosa Treatment at Magnolia Creek

Don’t allow the symptoms of anorexia nervosa to control your life. The caring staff at Magnolia Creek can help you regain control with comprehensive anorexia treatment. To learn more, give us a call at 205-509-2633 today.

We are here to help you. Contact Us @ 205.614.3743 or send us an email.

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