What is Anorexia Nervosa?

Anorexia nervosa, which is often referred to simply as anorexia, is an eating disorder. People who have this disorder have an extreme fear of gaining weight. They often eat limited amounts of food and may throw up after eating.  Anorexics may also exercise excessively in order to avoid gaining weight.

Anorexia is far more common in girls. In fact, it is estimated that anywhere from 85 to 95 percent of people who are affected with this disorder are female.

What Causes Anorexia?

The causes of anorexia are not fully understood. Hormones and genetics may play a small role in the development of this condition. Society promotes an unrealistic body image, and many feel people feel pressured to fit that image. That is one of the reasons that people become anorexics.  Additionally, anxiety disorders and family problems can make a person more susceptible to developing this condition.

Anorexia signs

What are Some Anorexia Symptoms?

People who have anorexia are often more than 15 percent below their ideal body weight. They may also refuse to eat around people. Because a female needs a certain amount of body fat to menstruate, anorexic girls often began to skip their periods.  Depression and dry mouth are other symptoms that may accompany this condition.

What Happens if Anorexia is Not Treated?

If anorexia is not treated, then a number of complications can result. Tooth decay, low potassium levels, severe malnutrition, and seizures are some of those complications. Additionally, death may result from untreated anorexia. It is estimated that 10 percent of the people who are affected with anorexia end up dying from it.

Anorexia Treatment

There are a number of programs that are available to treat anorexia.   The purpose of a treatment program is to restore normal eating habits and help the patient gain weight. Setting scheduled meal times, decreasing physical activity and increasing social interaction are some of the things that health care professionals do to help anorexics gain weight. It takes a team of nutritionists, nurses, physicians and mental health care providers to help a person overcome anorexia.