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Symptoms, diagnosis and causes of anorexia nervosa

Anorexia nervosa

Anorexia nervosa

Symptoms, diagnosis and causes of anorexia nervosa

Submit a request for further information, a quotation or indicative cost. Your enquiry will be forwarded to up to 3 private healthcare providers. They will respond directly with further information.

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Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder where the individual develops an aversion to food owing to an underlying fear of gaining weight. Such a person develops a false body image of obesity and becomes obsessed with losing weight by strict dieting and excessive exercise.

Incidence, Age and Sex

Anorexia nervosa mainly affects adolescents and young adults but may also be seen in middle aged adults. Young women and adolescent girls are most frequently affected.

Signs and symptoms

Anorexia nervosa may present with both physical and psychological symptoms. The following are some of the common features seen in an affected individual:

  • Distorted perception of one’s own body image is the chief symptom. Affected individuals may perceive themselves as fat when in reality they may be lean or even emaciated.
  • Avoidance of food and denial of hunger
  • Repeated weight check and exercise very frequently.
  • Some individuals may induce vomiting or take laxatives to remove food from body.
  • Hiding their symptoms from others.
  • Although such individuals eat very less, they are constantly preoccupied with thoughts of food.
  • Strange compulsive behaviour of handling food like cutting them into very small pieces or excessive washing of raw food before cooking.
  • Physical features like loss of hair, brittle nails and dry, yellow skin.
  • Extreme weight loss and constant fatigue.
  • Irregular periods or scanty menstrual bleeding.
  • Lack of concentration and impaired judgement.

Causes and prevention

There are several factors which may result in this emotional disorder. It is mainly seen in industrialised and developed countries where physical appearance carries great emphasis. It can also be triggered by any traumatic, stressful event in life. Underlying psychological stress is a potent trigger for any emotional disorder. People who are ‘over achievers’ or ‘perfectionists’ are more prone to this disorder. Some psychological problems like obsessive compulsive disorders and anxiety disorders may be associated with anorexia nervosa. Anorexia nervosa is more commonly seen in people related to certain professions like modelling, acting, dancing and gymnastics. Genetic predisposition may also play a role in causing anorexia nervosa.

Complications

Anorexia nervosa is a serious medical condition affecting the whole body and leading to disruption of both physical and mental health. A longstanding history of anorexia nervosa may result in several complications like constipation, thinning of the bones, fall in blood pressure and irregular heart rate. At times features of dehydration and repeated infections may occur. Occasionally an affected individual may have seizure due to electrolyte imbalance. Psychological problems like mood changes, irritability or depression may be seen which may seldom result in suicide.

Submit a request for further information, a quotation or indicative cost. Your enquiry will be forwarded to up to 3 private healthcare providers. They will respond directly with further information.

Get a quote for anorexia nervosa treatment >

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Symptoms, diagnosis and causes of anorexia nervosa
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