What Is Anorexia Nervosa Disorder

Anorexia Nervosa Disorder

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Anorexia nervosa disorder. Woman before and after

It just so happens a friend of mine suffers from this disease. She is a beautiful person in every way but she is never comfortable with her weight. Personally, at most times I think she is the perfect weight for her height and looks great. Unfortunately no matter what anyone may have to say she seems to go through these panic attacks when she reaches a certain weight. I will always be there for her no matter what her weight is and if you know of someone who is going through this disorder, please just be there for them no matter what.

Anorexia nervosa usually just called anorexia is related to the amount of food a person eats and may be called an eating disorder. Usually, the person is below weight for their height and they have this fear that they may gain weight. They always seem to feel that they are overweight. These individuals will go through different methods of controlling their weight.

Individuals suffering from anorexia will abstain from eating and when they do eat they may feel a sense of panic. After eating they may try to vomit their food take laxatives or try other methods to try and get rid of the food they ate.

Anorexia is more about the way the person feels about themselves and has nothing to do with the food they may eat. How thin you are determines your self-worth. This has nothing to do with food but more about the lack of it. This is very unhealthy and can become life-threatening.  Anorexia is an eating disorder that controls your life. Through treatment, the person can get a better perspective on weight and gain a better sense of better healthier eating habits.

Symptoms Of Anorexia Nervosa

The physical signs and symptoms of anorexia are associated with starvation. Anorexia also includes emotional and behavioral issues involving an unrealistic perception of weight and a particularly strong fear of gaining weight or becoming fat. It may be difficult to note signs and symptoms because what’s considered a coffee weight is different for every person, and a few individuals might not appear extremely thin.

Physical symptoms:

Anorexia, the physical signs:

  • The person has a thin appearance
  • Blood counts are abnormal
  • Tiredness
  • Problems sleeping
  • Fainting and or dizziness
  • Fingers have a bluish discoloration
  • The volume of hair is thin, and breaks or falls out
  • With women the absence of menstruation
  • Abdominal pain and constipation
  • Yellowish or dry skin
  • Having problems when it is cold
  • Heart rhythms are irregular
  • Blood pressure is low
  • Dehydration

But people who have anorexia binge and purge, almost like individuals who have bulimia. However, people with anorexia generally struggle with abnormally low weight, while individuals with bulimia typically are normal to above normal weight.

Emotional and behavioral symptoms:

The behavior exhibited by a person with anorexia may include: 

  • Severely restricting food intake through dieting or fasting
  • Exercising excessively
  • Self-induced vomiting to get rid of food after binging, by using enemas, diet aids, or laxatives.

Emotional and behavioral signs and symptoms may also include:

  • Frequently skipping meals or refusing to eat
  • They may deny their hunger or make excuses for not eating
  • Not wanting to eat in public
  • Lying about how much food has been eaten
  • They may fear gaining weight so they keep weighing their self
  • Frequent checking in the mirror for perceived flaws
  • Covering up in layers of clothing
  • Flat mood (lack of emotion)
  • Social withdrawal
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Reduced interest in sex


Like many other diseases, the exact cause of anorexia is not known. It may be a combination of psychological, biological, environmental, or psychological factors.

  • Biological. It is not clear which genes may be involved but it could have a genetic connection. It is important to know your family history to see if there may be a link.
  • Psychological. Individuals with anorexia may also exhibit obsessive-compulsive tendencies. They may get too regimented to following a strict diet and food protocol. This would make it easier for them to go without food even though hungry just because they are following a certain diet. The drive to be perfect in the things they do may give them the sense they are never thin enough. Believe me, there are no diets out there worth this risk. They also may have higher anxiety levels when it comes to their weight.
  • Environmental. There used to be a time when most models had to be a certain weight to make it to the runway. These models were once objectified, things have changed thankfully. Your success depended on how thin you looked. Then there is always peer pressure that can affect individuals in several different ways. Please do not allow this to be the person you truly are.

Risk factors:

Eating disorders such as anorexia are more common in women and young girls. This does not mean that the same social and or psychological issues do not exist in boys and men to are too thin for their height.

This eating disorder is most common in teenagers trying to look a certain way that may be unhealthy for them. Anorexia can develop at any age although it is not very common in individuals over forty. During puberty, a teenager’s body goes through a lot of changes and this is when they are more likely to develop anorexia or other eating disorders. These are the years when peer pressure is high and the feeling of looking like someone else may be more important than their health.

Factors that may increase the risk of anorexia include:

  • Genetics. Knowing your family history is important. If a parent a sibling or someone in your family tree has suffered from an eating disorder you may be at a higher risk of developing anorexia.
  • Dieting and starvation. Going on a diet may be risky for individuals who could develop an eating disorder. Starvation may be symptomatic that you may be anorexic. When you starve yourself you affect the way your brain reacts to this hunger. This could cause anxiety and other mood changes including depression. Repeating this behavior just makes it harder to get back to what is considered normal healthy eating habits,
  • Transitions. Whatever transition you may be going through like a new school, a job, entering into a relationship, or breaking up from one, in most cases causes emotional stress and increases the risk of anorexia.


There may be many complications caused by anorexia. Individuals suffering from anorexia have died due to their severe low weight. This may result from abnormal heart rhythms or an imbalance of minerals, and electrolytes such as potassium, sodium, and calcium that maintain the balance of fluids in your body.

Complications of anorexia include:

  • Anemia
  • Heart failure or heart complications such as rhythms
  • Osteoporosis is a type of arthritis dealing with bone degradation.
  • Muscle loss
  • Absence of a period in females
  • Decreased testosterone levels in males
  • Nausea, bloating, constipation, and gastrointestinal problems
  • Low levels of sodium, potassium, and chloride
  • Kidney problems

A person suffering from anorexia may get so malnourished that certain organs may become damaged. These organs include the kidneys, brain, and heart.  Once the anorexia has been addressed this damage can be reversed.

Mental health problems include:


When anorexia is suspected your doctor will perform certain tests to determine the cause. This is to rule out any other cause to rule out the reasons for the loss in weight.

These exams and tests generally include:

Physical exam. The basic is your weight right for your height (BMI). They will do other tests such as blood pressure, temperature heart, and most likely will do a blood test.
Lab tests.
The First would be analyzing your blood count via your blood test. The blood will also be checked for protein and electrolytes. This determines how your thyroid and kidneys are functioning. A urinalysis also may be done.
Psychological evaluation.
A doctor or psychological state professional will likely ask about your thoughts, feelings, and eating habits. You may even be asked to finish psychological self ­assessment questionnaires.

Other studies. X­rays could also be taken to see your bone density, check for stress fractures or broken bones, or check for pneumonia or heart problems. Electrocardiograms could also be done to see for heart irregularities.


Treatment for anorexia is usually done employing a team approach, this could include dietitians, doctors, psychiatrists, and individuals experienced with treating people with eating disorders. Ongoing therapy and nutrition education is very
important to continued recovery.

Here’s a glance at what’s commonly involved in treating people with anorexia.

Hospitalization and other programs:

If your life is in immediate danger, you’ll need treatment during a hospital ER for such issues as a cardiac rhythm disturbance, dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, or a psychiatric emergency. Hospitalization could also be required for psychiatric issues, malnutrition, medical complications, and individuals who refuse to eat.

Some clinics concentrate on treating people with eating disorders. Rather than hospitalization, you may be offered a residential program or day program to monitor how you are doing. If this does not work you may have to be hospitalized for a more intense regimen of treatment.

Medical care

Because of the host of complications anorexia causes, you may need frequent monitoring of vital signs, hydration level, and electrolytes, as well as related physical conditions.

Care is usually coordinated by a primary care doctor or a mental health professional, with other professionals involved.

Restoring  A Healthy Weight

Treatment starts with getting back to a weight that is healthy. You can’t recover from anorexia without returning to a healthy weight and learning proper nutrition.

Treatment procedures include:

  • Your primary care doctor, who can provide medical care and supervise your calorie needs and weight gain
  • A psychologist or other mental health professional can work with you to develop behavioral strategies to help you return to a healthy weight
  • A dietitian, who can offer guidance getting back to regular patterns of eating, including providing specific meal plans and calorie requirements that help you meet your weight goals
  • Your family, this is also key to getting back to eating habits that are normal and getting back to a healthy weight.


These types of therapy may be beneficial for anorexia:

  • Family-based therapy. This is the only evidence-based treatment for teenagers with anorexia. Because the teenager with anorexia is unable to make good choices about eating and health while in the grips of this serious condition, this therapy mobilizes parents to help their child with re-feeding and weight restoration until the child can make good choices about health.
  • Individual therapy. For adults, cognitive behavioral therapy, specifically enhanced cognitive behavioral therapy, has been shown to help. The first goal will be to support the anorexic to get back to normal eating habits so as to maintain a healthy weight. The second goal is to help change distorted beliefs and thoughts that maintain restrictive eating.


There are no medications that have been approved to treat anorexia, at least there have been none to treat this condition well. If you are suffering from depression or anxiety, certain anti-anxiety and anti-depressants may be prescribed by a psychiatrist.

Treatment challenges in anorexia:

In most cases, the person suffering from anorexia may not want to treat the disorder. They often see themselves as overweight.

Barriers to treatment may include:

  • Thinking you don’t need treatment
  • Fearing weight gain
  • Seeing anorexia as a lifestyle choice rather than a disorder.

People with anorexia can recover. Periodic appointments and ongoing therapy are important to your recovery. It is essential to manage your stress so as to remain healthy.

Lifestyle and home remedies

Taking care of yourself when you have anorexia can be difficult.

Follow these steps along with treatment from a professional:

  • Stick to your treatment plan. Skipping your therapy sessions may cause you to go off your proper meal plans.
  • Vitamin and mineral supplements: Find out which ones are going to work for you the best by discussing these with a doctor  If you’re not eating well, chances are your body is lacking in essential nutrients such as Vitamin D or iron.
  • Isolation during this time is not recommended. your family and your friends want you to get healthy and they have your best interests in their hearts.
  • Weighing yourself. This is not recommended along with constantly looking at yourself in the mirror. This does nothing for you in your recovery to gain a weight that is healthy for your height (BMI).

Herbal Remedies.


Is a very effective herb used for curing the problem of anorexia. The leaves, roots, and flowers of Dandelion have medicinal properties and have been effectively used for helping individuals with anorexia. You can get this through teas or pill form.


Chamomile is additionally very useful in providing a soothing and calming effect to the system nervosa, thereby reducing anxiety, stress, tension, and nervousness. It helps in uplifting the mood of the person, thereby building up self-esteem. Chamomile is often taken in a `sort of herb tea, tonic, tablets, etc.

Hawthorn Berry:
Hawthorn berry is another very useful herbal remedy to help people with anorexia. Hawthorn berry is extremely useful in improving digestion and in helping the body to relax. Digestion of the food you eat stimulates the appetite of the person, thereby overcoming the most problem related to anorexia. Hawthorn berries are often taken in sort of tonic, tea, tincture, etc.


Ginger is another herbal remedy that has been used since ancient times to treat various digestive system-related symptoms associated with anorexia. The main component of ginger is gingerols, which not only helps in stimulating a better flow of digestive juice but also helps in controlling nausea and vomiting.

Ginger improves a person’s appetite and it also helps in digesting the food easily. Ginger is additionally helpful in providing relief from pain caused thanks to inflammation of the stomach tissues. Ginger is often consumed raw, in a sort of juice, herb tea, etc.


Damiana is yet one more herbal remedy used for people affected by Anorexia. Damiana is renowned for its properties to reinforce libido, improve the gastrointestinal system, remove fatigue, cure depression, and remove infections.
Medicinal properties are abundant in the leaves of the damiana plant. They may be used to cure different medical conditions including anorexia. Damina leaves are used to help with depression and it does stimulate the appetite. It also uplifts the mood of a person and helps with food digestion. Damiana leaves are often consumed in a sort of herbal tea daily to cure anorexia.


Since ancient times Yarrow a herb has been used for treating anorexia and its associated symptoms. Yarrow helps in stimulating the appetite and is beneficial in relieving abdominal cramps. Yarrow is effective in helping the digestion of food. It does this by stimulating certain gastric juices.

Various infections of the body get relief from the Yarrow herb. This boosts the immune system and boosts immunity levels. All these properties of yarrow make it very beneficial in cases of anorexia. Yarrow is often consumed in a sort of juice, powder, tincture, capsule, fluid extract, oil, etc.

Video on Anorexia Nervosa. Living with anorexia.

Wishing you good health, and thank you for reading.


Comments are welcome

2 thoughts on “What Is Anorexia Nervosa Disorder”

  1. I have never had to seal with someone who has this disorder, but I have read about several cases of it. The hardest part, I think, is trying to convince the person that he/she is ok. If a person is not over weight, and they are constantly fretting about being overweight, it must be a deeper issue that needs to be unearthed and worked through with the cooperation of supportive people. Good article.

    • Hi JJ,

      Thank you for your comments. It is a very sad disorder to witness, but like you say all you can do is be there for the person and support them. Personally, I think it is a psychological problem with deep issues.

      All the best,



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