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Symptoms and Causes of Anorexia

Updated on May 13, 2010

What is anorexia?

Anorexia is an eating disorder that causes voluntary weight loss.

What are the causes of anorexia?

It is not known what exactly is the cause of anorexia. It is not defined if the origin of this disorder is physiological or psychological. There is a combination of psychological (family influence and psychic conflict), biological (genetic and biological predisposition), and social (social influences and expectations), but the end result is a remarkable rejection of food. Typically anorexia patients have a body weight of 15% to 25% lower than a normal person, and have a pathological desire to lose weight and have an extreme fear of gaining weight.

Who gets anorexia?

Anorexia usually occurs in women and starts in adolescence and young adulthood. Nearly 90 percent of anorexia patients are women.

Signs and symptoms of anorexia

  • Frequently complaining of being fat.
  • Anorexics prefer to eat alone.
  • Anorexics have been found to overly concerned about the caloric content of food and dieting.
  • Avoid consumption of certain foods: Sweets, potatoes, bread, beans, rice, and others.
  • They start eliminating more and more food from their diet, leaving only vegetables and fruits. Some anorexics may even prevent liquids. They can also present a special interest in nutrition of other family members.
  • Anorexics perform increased physical activity for weight loss.
  • They are opposed to eating normal quantities of food despite the requests, advice, orders and/or threats of family members or family physicians.
  • Anorexics secretly vomit after meals.
  • Anorexics tend to use herbal slimming products and laxatives.
  • Important symptoms are dry and yellow skin.

Anorexia is an extreme fear of gaining weight and a madness for losing weight.
Anorexia is an extreme fear of gaining weight and a madness for losing weight.

Psychiatric symptoms of anorexia

  • Rapid changes of character and humor
  • Irritability.
  • Anxiety.
  • Sadness.
  • Depression.
  • Tendency to isolate from friends and family.
  • Lack of feeling for anything other than work or study. Excessive devotion to reading and writing.

Treatment of anorexia

Professional doctors treat anorexia because when you will consult your family doctor for this problem, they will usually refer to a psychiatrist or an anorexia specialist for this disease. Goal of treatment of anorexia is to resolve psychological difficulties and then restore normal body weight preventing malnutrition. A psychiatrist will diagnose the condition of a person suffering from anorexia and advise hospitalization or in-house treatment of the condition. Doctor will also provide counseling and assistance to family and friends associated with the patient for his/her health. Anorexia treatment attempts to first of all treat mental and physical disorders, then correct metabolic abnormalities caused by this disease, and then slowly and gradually increase the stamina and weight of patient. Sometimes, it is also necessary to prescribe certain drugs for anorexia. Some patients develop obesity after anorexia treatment. In rare cases approximately 2% to 6% of patients die from complications of anorexia or commit suicide.


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    • profile image

      tasia 6 years ago

      i need help

    • soni2006 profile image

      Rajinder Soni 6 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Yes you are right Dr. Shahi. It is more of a psychiatric problem than anything else. Thanks,.

    • profile image

      DR.SUNIL KUMAR SHAHI 6 years ago from Ranchi

      In my opinion Anorexia Nervosa is Psychiatric problem so it is essential to look into all aspects of activities and family environment of the case.

    • soni2006 profile image

      Rajinder Soni 7 years ago from New Delhi, India

      I think you are right Slainia. I will check it out.

    • Slainia profile image

      Slainia 7 years ago from Goderich Ontario

      Actually, isn't it bulemics who vomit after meals? Anorexia is the control of what goes into the body, bulemia is the purging of it before digestion. I thought.

    • soni2006 profile image

      Rajinder Soni 7 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Yes ocbill, I also know some people who are really conscious about their diet and are limiting their food to just fruits and veggies but it is okay up to a certain point. We don't need to push ourselves so hard for losing weight that we suffer from malnutrition. This is surely a psychiatric problem even for some celebrities.

    • ocbill profile image

      ocbill 7 years ago from hopefully somewhere peaceful and nice

      I like the mirror image. I heard about one guy on a radio station who was 6 ft 1 inches, 290 lbs football player, then he went to becoming a vegetarian; eating only fruits and vegetables and is now 190 lbs