Anorexia Nervosa Symptoms, Causes and Treatments

With the large scale epidemic of obesity storming the world, more and more people want to drive away from the complications of having too much weight that includes heart diseases, stroke, diabetes and many others. The result? More weight loss products, equipments and fitness training regimens have been invented.

But what if you succeed and reached your fitness goal? Do you stop there? Well, there are people who wants to maintain their new found physique, while others regain weight. A positive and prolonged outcome obviously depends on how motivated you are to stay in shape. If you stopped your weight loss program, obviously you gain weight and you have to start the whole process all over again.

Interestingly, there are cases of people who don’t cease to lose weight. They continue to avoid a lot of food groups and developed an emotional fear of gaining weight. As odd as it may seem, this is actually true and the condition is called – Anorexia Nervosa.

What is Anorexia Nervosa

anorexia nervosaAccording to Wikipedia, anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder which is characterized by uncontrolled food restriction and the fear of weight gain. People with this disorder are believed to start developing during adolescence and early adulthood, showing signs of confusion or dissatisfaction on the way they look physically.

Due to the fear of gaining weight, anorexic people are very disciplined on the way they eat, practically taking out majority of food groups on their eating plan. This results to metabolic drop and hormonal imbalances. However, the term “anorexia” refers to loss of appetite and people with anorexia nervosa does have their appetite for food to function well.

Physical features of anorexia nervosa is an extreme low body weight, unusual eating habits and obsessions with being slim or thin. Medical experts considers this as a mental disorder which can be a life long struggle. Anorexic individuals are often practicing mirror gazing and too much or repetitive monitoring of weight. In short, patients are more inclined to consistently check their body figure to maintain their weight.

Anorexia nervosa affects both male and female at any age, race or cultural background. However, this condition is more common in females than in men.

Causes of Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia mainly affects both body and mind. Most cases starts as a simple dieting regimen but became unmanageable and out of control. Since this condition is so complex, causes are sometimes linked on environmental and family history factors. Consider the following factors:

Environmental factors

Many cultures views female body as beautiful and sexy if she’s slim, fit and thin. This idea was imprinted into Western countries and the media boost this mentality further. This force most women to have an ideal “thin” body to get the attention or approval of the public. Americans and in most part of Europe have been greatly influenced by this fact, resulting to have social pressures from their careers (dancers, models, actresses, etc) and life.

The idea that being slim and thin doesn’t stop in the West. Even in Asia, the mentality of being thin as basis of beauty has affected the Japanese, Koreans and the Chinese. Teenagers are exposed to different forms of weight loss which they patronize even though they are already fit and slim. The cultural weight loss resources play a vital role in the development of many cases of anorexia nervosa in the world.

Biological factors

Anorexia Nervosa was first discovered in 1873 by Sir William Gull. This means that you are highly susceptible to this condition if you have a family history of any eating disorder. Yes, anorexia nervosa is hereditary which ranges from 56% to 84% of inheritance rates.

Obstetric complications can also trigger this disorder. Prenatal and perinatal complications such as anemia, diabetes mellitus, preeclampsia, placental infraction and neonatal cardia disorders can all cause anorexia nervosa development.

Nutritional deficiency especially with zinc has been found to contribute on the development of this condition. Other biological factors includes serotonin dysregulation, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, leptin and ghrelin hormones, cerebral blood flow and infections.

Other causes

A study was conducted involving the relationship between autism and anorexia nervosa. The study reveals that over 20% of teenagers with eating disorders are on the autism spectrum which shows severe cases of anorexia nervosa.

Other causes includes stress, depression, traumatic events, paranoidism, being perfectionist with regards to physical appearance, job requirement and many others.

Symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa

Like any other disorders, people with anorexia nervosa would not admit that they have a problem. This disorder is pretty easy to identify because of various visible symptoms. This includes malnutrition, depression and obsessive compulsive disorder. The following are the known symptoms of this disorder.

  • too much dieting
  • hypokalaemia
  • obsess about food and weight
  • exercise a lot
  • amenorrhea
  • dramatic or rapid weight loss
  • refusal to maintain normal body mass index
  • purging
  • may practice self-induced vomiting
  • bad breath
  • shrunken breasts
  • low blood pressure
  • abdominal distension
  • hair loss or thinning
  • weigh much less than normal
  • suicidal tendencies

Anorexia Nervosa Treatments

Treatment for anorexia nervosa has three main purpose that includes regaining to a healthy weight, overcoming psychological instability and totally eliminating any eating or behavioral disorders.

Anorexia Nervosa is difficult to treat especially if its a severe case. If not treated, serious health complications awaits the victim such as cardiovascular diseases, kidney and liver failure and above all, death.

The first option is to take dietary supplements that are rich in zinc to prevent zinc deficiency. Eat more foods that are rich in essential fatty acids such as omega-3 and eicosapentaenoic acid, both of which helps overcome neuropsychiatric disorders. You may also try nutrition counseling and medical nutrition therapy.

If you opt for therapy treatment, you can try cognitive behavioral therapy which is reportedly the best form of treatment for this eating disorder. Other alternative therapy treatments includes family therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, cognitive remediation therapy and maudsley family therapy.

Alternative medicine can also be used to overcome anorexia nervosa. One approach that you can do is to practice Yoga. There are many health experts that suggest yoga for their patients who are suffering from eating disorders.


Anorexia Nervosa is a serious disorder that needs to be corrected as soon as possible. This is a mental illness that is very hard to overcome. If you or a member of your family is suffering from this disease, you need to support the victim in any way you can and see a specialist right away.

If you experienced this disorder or currently suffering from it, I encourage you to share your thoughts by commenting below. Your opinion will greatly help other readers on how to overcome anorexia nervosa effectively.

Noah Mark

Hi, this is Noah and thank you for reading this post. I hope you learned something here. Rest assured that I will continue to bring you the best weight loss information in this site to help you overcome all your weight gain endeavors. Please follow me on Google+ and Twitter to learn more.

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