Anorexia is an eating disorder. It occurs when a person's obsession with diet and exercise leads to extreme weight loss. The disorder is considered if a person refuses to maintain a body weight at or above 85% of their ideal body weight. It can be fatal.
The cause of anorexia is not known. It appears that genetics and environment play a role.
Anorexia is an
eating disorder. It occurs when a person's obsession with diet and exercise leads to extreme weight loss. The disorder is considered if a person refuses to maintain a body weight at or above 85% of their ideal body weight. It can be fatal.
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam and psychological evaluation will be done.
Other tests may include:
- Blood teststo look for chemical imbalances
- Electrocardiogram (EKG)—to check your heart's electrical activity
- Bone density tests
There are no guidelines to prevent anorexia. Early detection and treatment is the best option.
Anorexia is more common in females, and during adolescence or early adulthood. Factors that increase your risk for anorexia include:
- Low self-esteem
- Feelings of helplessness
- Fear of becoming overweight
- Pressure to be thin
- Families that are overprotective, rigid, not involved, or in conflict
- Family history of eating disorders
- Emotional stress
Mood disorders, such as
generalized anxiety disorder
- Personality disorders
- Influenced by social and fashion trends emphasizing or glamorizing thinness
Symptoms may include:
- Excessive weight loss
- Obsession with food, calories, and fat content
- Dieting even when thin
- Intense fear of gaining weight, even when underweight
- Body dysmorphia—distorted self-image of being overweight despite evidence of the opposite
- Basing self-evaluation heavily on body weight or shape
- Loss of menstrual periods or delay in the beginning of periods
- Excessive exercising
- Feeling cold, especially hands and feet
- Being secretive about food
- Hair loss and/or growth of fine hair on the body
- Fainting or severe light-headedness
- Heart palpitations
Anorexia often leads to a number of serious medical problems including:
- Cardiac problems—can be fatal if an irregular heartbeat develops
Body Dysmorphia Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
The goal of treatment is to get you return you to a healthy weight and to help you maintain that weight. A healthy weight is above 85% of your ideal weight. To achieve this, your intake of calories is gradually increased. This can be accomplished through a number of interventions, including the following: