Last Updated: Sep 03, 2019
Change Language

Anorexia - Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

What is Anorexia? Who gets anorexia? How would you know if your loved one has anorexia? What causes anorexia? What are the factors that increase the risk in anorexia? How anorexia affects your body? How is anorexia diagnosed? What is the treatment for anorexia? Can anorexia be prevented? How to help someone living with anorexia nervosa? What is the difference between anorexia and bulimia? How to recover from anorexia? How to overcome anorexia?

What is Anorexia?

Anorexia is an eating disorder which is characterized by unusually low body weight, distorted perception of body weight and fear of becoming fat or obese. People have an obsession with controlling their shape and weight, they usually use a lot of efforts to reduce their body weight and this interferes with their day to day activities. To prevent gaining weight, people will restrict eating a large amount of food. They control their calories by misusing enemas, diuretics, diet aids and laxatives. Sometimes, they also resort to vomiting after eating their meal. It can give you psychological stress about self-worth, body image and social acceptance.

Who gets anorexia?

A person becomes anorexic when he or she starts restricting food. It usually develops in children at the time of puberty. In which 9 out of 10 are female. A person who gets anorexia is malnourished and extremely thin.

How would you know if your loved one has anorexia?

  • Skipping meals
  • Making unusual excuses for not eating food.
  • Eating only foods that are low in calories and fat.
  • Adopting certain eating rituals (spitting food or vomiting after eating) and rigid meal schedule.
  • Cooking meals for others but avoid eating any of it.
  • Checking their weight repeatedly.
  • Checking in the mirror for any perceived flaws.
  • Complaining and whining about being fat.
  • Refusing to eat in public.
  • Eroded teeth and knuckle calluses which occur if they vomit regularly.
  • Covering themselves in a lot of clothes.

What causes anorexia?

  • Biological factors: There can be genetic changes in a person’s body which can make them more prone to developing anorexia. Some people can also have a genetic tendency directed towards perseverance, sensitivity and perfectionism (traits which are associated with it).
  • Psychological factors: Many emotional characteristics can also contribute to it. Women who have OCD (Obsessive compulsive disorder) are at a higher risk of developing it. This occurs because they can have an excessive drive for perfectionism, this can make them think they’re never too thin enough.
  • Environmental factors: In today’s world, worth and success are equated with being thin. Peer pressure also helps fuel the desire which exists mostly among young girls.

What are the factors that increase the risk in anorexia?

Risks factors which contribute in developing anorexia:

  • If you are a girl, you can be at a higher risk of developing it.
  • Changes in some genes.
  • If one or both your parents have anorexia, there are chances that you can develop too.
  • Artistic and sports-related activities- Models, dancers, actors and athletes are at a higher risk of developing it.

How anorexia affects your body?

Anorexia is not only weight loss but it is more than this. It affects our body mentally and physically. Anorexia nervosa destroys mind, spirit, relationships, and hampers our body badly. People also get killed due to anorexia nervosa.

How is anorexia diagnosed?

There is no specific laboratory test for it. Identification of Anorexia nervosa is challenging at times. Due to which illness remain undetected for a longer period. If the symptoms are present then the doctor will begin an evaluation. A complete physical examination will be performed and medical history will be checked. Various diagnostic tests will be performed like X-rays and blood tests. Which will evaluate the cause of weight loss and what are its effects on the body organs. A person is recommended to a psychiatrist to be treated for mental illness.

What is the treatment for anorexia?

Treatment for anorexia can be difficult because people do not accept being ill. Anorexia nervosa is of kind eating disorder thus it also needs the same treatment plan.

  • Physiotherapy: This involves practical techniques for developing an interest in healthy food and weight. It helps to change ways through which the person responds to a difficult situation.
  • Medication: Certain SSRIs or antidepressants are prescribed. This helps control anxiety and depression associated with eating disorders.
  • Nutrition Counselling: This strategy is involved in the treatment for creating a good approach towards healthy food. This also teaches the importance of a healthy diet in life.

Can anorexia be prevented?

In most of the cases, Anorexia cannot be prevented. But if the symptoms start to emerge then the person must be treated quickly. To prevent it from teaching about good and healthy eating habits should be given. Showing changes due to unhealthy food also help to prevent eating disorders.

How to help someone living with anorexia nervosa?

These are the ways in which a person living with anorexia can be helped:

  • Encouraged should be given to a person to seek treatment.
  • A person must be told about good dietary plans.
  • Sitting with them during meal time.
  • Keeping a check on their eating habits.
  • Finding their cause of eating disorder and help them to overcome it.

What is the difference between anorexia and bulimia?

Anorexia and Bulimia both are eating disorders but have a slight difference. Different food-related behaviour describes them. It starts from changes in body image. This even results in depression and anxiety. Which leads people to lose weight due to extreme dieting. On the other hand, Bulimia is an unhealthy relationship with food and time. This occurs due to damaged eating cycles. Weight of a person keeps on fluctuating from high to low.

How to recover from anorexia?

  • The first step towards meeting the goals of recovering anorexia is to stick to your treatment plan.
  • Include physical activities in your you regular routine.
  • Practice smart eating habits, including vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
  • Ask doctors for some nutritional supplement to get back the lost nutrition.

How to overcome anorexia?

Anorexia nervosa is accompanied by malnutrition which severely affects the body. Hence restoration of weight and nutritional health is important to recover from it. There must be an intake of more than 1000 calories per day. Start planning the meals for proper nutritional values. A balanced diet is important for proper caloric intake.

Popular Questions & Answers

Hi I am 25 year old. I having hypothyroid since 2 year. I am taking 50 mcg thyrox .still I am not reducing weight. Having period problems also. My tsh level is 3.32 .weight 80 kg. Height 5" 5 inch.will I increase my lt4 to 100 mcg. For reducing weight. I have tried diet and all. Nothing works. Help me.

MBBS, CCEBDM, Diploma in Diabetology, Diploma in Clinical Nutrition & Dietetics, Cetificate Course In Thyroid Disorders Management (CCMTD)
Endocrinologist, Dharwad
Hdello, thanks for the query. Madam your tsh now is with in the specified limit with current dosage of levothyroxine (50 mcg). The recommended range is 0.5 to 4.5 or 5 mu/l. Usually at 3 to 4 mu/l level all the symptoms are in check and even effor...
1 person found this helpful

I am having a strained marital relationship because of which I have lost interest in lyf I am nit living with my husband since one years due to our differences ours was arranged marriage three years ago I got emotionally attached wid my husband I still love my husband the most I sacrificed alot for him but he never reciprocated my love he never cared for me he was fever there for me in my lows my bad times he is self centred money minded selfish nd emotionless person but still I am emotionally attached wid him nd I am unable to get over him I cry everyday for him I want him back in my lyf as my husband we r not on talking terms ryt now he has blocked me on call nd watsaap which is adversely affecting my emotional mental nd physical health I feel sad lost interest in day to day activities feels worthless hopeless I feel I am good for nothing when I feel anxious about my lyf I don't know why I go through induced vomiting problem I feel lyk going to washroom again nd again nd pur my fingers in my mouth nd vomit nd increased urination increased thirst feeling of releasing stool by going to toilet repeatedly since 2019 I am having this problem I had arranged marriage in 2018 after that I fell in love nd when I didn't got that love back when I got emotionally attached wid him nd he didn't got attached or fell in love with me when I did everything to make him happy when I was there for him during hia financial crisis nd mortgaged all my jwelleries still he didn't developed any kind of emotional attachment or or compassion or love for him for him I don't exist in his lyf I don't to how to deal wid this emotional breakdown sometimes I feel lyk crying sometimes I retialate to my parents when they say something which I think its wrong which pinch me inside I want to lead a normal nd happy nd peaceful nd stable lyf but I am unable to do so on my own stress strain anxiety sadness emptiness is there ryt now I am on medication of a reputed psychiatric I am on lamitor od 100 mg two times a day betacap tr 40 mg petril md 1 mg atonil 10 mg qutan 25 mg nd prothiaden 50 mg I just want to know am I on right medication or medicine need to get changed or improvised also I gained weight in these two years I was 51 ryt now I am 70 kg I crave for food sweets due to depression I am having bulmania please doctor help me I need your valuable suggestions nd if medicine need to get changed or something please help me to deal wid this low phase worst phase of my lyf please doctor I need your help I will be helpful if you will give me suggestions nd advice md medicines.

Reparenting Technique, BA, BEd, Transactional Analysis
Psychologist, Bangalore
You look like you are in a serious mess and on medication. I suggest that you meet with a marriage counselor and have some therapy for both of you. Even if he does not come, you must go for some help for yourself. Relying on medication alone is no...
1 person found this helpful

Good evening,  I am diagnosed with bipolar mood disorder after a traumatic brain injury in 2008: impairment in frontal lobe/executive dysfunction, t2 wi am using the above for my brain injury, white matter hyperintensity suggestive of a focal area of demyelination, central nervousness system damage -multiple sclerosis (ms), memory/ concentration, depression and agitation, sleep, epilepsy I had subsequently suffered kidney failure in 2017 and was in a coma for 2 weeks. I am currently on the following medication: I am using the meds below for my brain injury: topamax 200 mg x2 odiven 75 mg x3 yelate 60 mg x2 at night zyprexa 10 mg at night diabetic medications: actraphane hm (ge) 24 units in the morning 22 units at night indo metformin (glucophase) 1000 mg x2 in february 2019 I woke up with the most excruciating pain in my jaw, next to my nose, cheek and lower face area. This intense, stabbing, electric shock-like pain will last for several seconds every 2 to 5 minutes. At the hospital the Dr. said I had a stroke but my brain scan showed that the stroke happened a while back. The neuro specialist diagnosed me with trigeminal neuralgia and is treating me with carbamazepine 400g x2 per day. The side effects are killing me. I have lost 21 kg since feb. I am 52 years old, 1.73 tall and weight 65 kg. I have continuous diarrhea. Can't keep any food in and have abdominal pain. Every time I weigh myself I have lost another kg. Am I busy getting anorexia? Is there any way to manage this? I am short of breath, dizzy and fainting. I am exhausted have no energy my body is tired. Which vitamins can I take to boost my system? Is there any medicine or  supplement that is on the market that will make me feel better? The psychiatrist said they can't change the medication (carbamazepine) because of the medication that i'm currently using. Could you please advice.

Psychiatrist, Bangalore
Dear , are you still on topamac? Now that you are on carbamazepine (helpful for neuralgia and brain injury), you may not need topamac (for brain injury). Request your doctor whether you can reduce and stop it. Topamac reduces weight. Stopping it m...

Mam I expecting baby but I am irregular periods with pcod problem shall I take femilon tablets for curing and also I need to know how many days I want to take this tablets will you pls explain me.

Homeopathy Doctor,
A number of factors increase the chance of irregular menstruation. Most relate to hormone production. The two hormones that impact menstruation are estrogen and progesterone. These are the hormones that regulate the cycle. Contraceptives can cause...
Popular Health Tips

All You Must Know About Gynecomastia!

MBBS, MS - General Surgery, MCh - Plastic Surgery
Cosmetic/Plastic Surgeon, Vadodara
All You Must Know About Gynecomastia!
Gynecomastia is basically swelling of the breast tissues in boys and men. This is usually caused due to an imbalance of the hormones, estrogen, and testosterone. Gynecomastia can affect either one or both the breasts, sometimes in an uneven manner...
958 people found this helpful

Bariatric Surgeries - Know Forms Of Them!

MBBS, Fellowship In Minimally Invasive Bariatric Surgery, Fellowship In Minimally invasive(Keyhole) Surgery
Bariatrician, Bangalore
Bariatric Surgeries - Know Forms Of Them!
What are Different Types of Bariatric Surgeries? Bariatric Surgery is one of the most popular options for obese people looking for a way to control their weight. To get bariatric surgery, one has to qualify for certain criteria like BMI (Body Mass...
2152 people found this helpful

D2 Gastrectomy & Stomach Cancer - How Can Former Help Latter?

MBBS (Gold Medalist), MS- General Surgery (Gold Medalist), DNB - General Surgery (Gold Medalist), DNB - GI surgery, Fellow Minimal Access Surgeon, Fellowship in Hepato Biliary, Pancreatic Surgery & Liver Transplantation, MRCS
Surgical Gastroenterologist, Kolkata
D2 Gastrectomy & Stomach Cancer  - How Can Former Help Latter?
Stomach cancer or gastric cancer occurs when cancerous cells accumulate in the stomach. Statistics show that over 700,000 deaths occur in the world from stomach cancer every year. Of all the cancers, it is the third most common cancer. In most cas...
3102 people found this helpful

Fertility - How To Safeguard It?

MD - Obstetrtics & Gynaecology
IVF Specialist, Jaipur
Fertility - How To Safeguard It?
The question of being fertile is an important one in the lives of young men and women, who opt for protected sexual intercourse for the time being but plan to become a parent sometime in the future. There might be a number of causes of infertility...
3040 people found this helpful

Gynecomastia - Knowing The Causes & Treatment Of It!

DNB - General Surgery, MBBS, FMAS.Laparoscopy
General Surgeon, Jaipur
Gynecomastia - Knowing The Causes & Treatment Of It!
Gynecomastia is a hormonal condition that causes swelling of the breast tissues in men and boys. This condition usually arises as a result of hormonal imbalance. Breasts do not form in the same pattern in males as they do in females but all males ...
4081 people found this helpful
Content Details
Written By
P.G.In Dietitics,BSc - Dietitics / Nutrition
Play video
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
Hello friends, I am Dr. Shakuntla Shukla, senior consultant Gnaecologist at Apollo Cradle and Fortis La Femme, GK 2. I am the medical director of Aastha Medical Centre, Lajpat nagar. Today I will be talking about Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), ...
Play video
Deficiency Of Vitamin D In Indian Society
Hi, I am Dr. Vimal Kumar, Orthopedist. Aaj hum baat karenge ki Indian population mein Vitamin D deficiency itni jyada kyu hai. Aap dekh rahein honge ki aap kea as pass ke bahut se log Vitamin D deficient hain. Bahut se ilakon mein 70-80% long Vita...
Play video
Thyroid Disorders - Know More About It
Hi, I am Dr. Kulin R Shah, Endocrinologist. I see cases of diabetes, PCOS, thyroid, obesity, and osteoporosis. Today I will be talking on the thyroid. Just to brief about thyroid, let's start with the thyroid gland. It is a small endocrine gland w...
Play video
Myths And Facts About Obesity Surgery
Hi, I am Dr. Neeraj Rayate, General Surgeon and today we are going to discuss myths and facts about obesity surgery or weight loss surgery or bariatric surgery. The commonest myth about weight loss surgery is that it is nothing but liposuction. In...
Play video
Childcare - Know Facts About It!
Hi, I am Dr. Suresh Keshan, Pediatrician. Today I will be speaking on general childcare and the things which parents mostly have questions about while they visit our clinic. It will not be a technical medical session but informative session which ...
Having issues? Consult a doctor for medical advice