Treatment for Anorexia Nervosa

Treatment for Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is a serious type of eating disorder in which individuals tend to restrict what kinds of food they consume and how many calories they eat. People suffering from the disorder might also binge eat, work out compulsively, or purge by inducing vomiting or abusing laxatives. In growing children, anorexia nervosa could manifest in an inability to gain the appropriate amount of weight for their stature and age. Other hallmarks of anorexia could include:

  • A distorted body image 
  • Weight loss
  • Having a hard time maintaining an appropriate weight for one’s stature

Physical Signs of Anorexia 

 Physical signs that could suggest someone is struggling with anorexia include:

  • Dramatic weight loss
  • Muscle weakness
  • Poor wound healing
  • Impaired immune system functioning
  • Abnormal bloodwork results such as low counts or anemia
  • Abnormal laboratory findings such as low hormone levels, slow heart rate, low potassium
  • Yellow skin from eating lots of carrots
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Stomach cramps
  • Nonspecific gastrointestinal symptoms such as acid reflux or constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Constantly feeling cold
  • Sleep issues
  • Fainting
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Cold, mottled hands and feet
  • Swollen feet
  • Lanugo, or fine hair on the body
  • Dry skin
  • Thinning hair on one’s head
  • dry/brittle nails
  • Dental issues such as cavities, sensitivity, enamel erosion, tooth discoloration
  • Cuts and calluses on one’s finger joints, perhaps from induced vomiting
  • Swelling around the salivary glands

Emotional and Behavior Signs of Anorexia

Behaviors and emotional signs that may suggest someone is dealing with anorexia include:

  • Wearing layers to stay warm or hide weight loss
  • Denial of feeling hungry
  • Complaining about gastrointestinal discomfort
  • Food rituals, such as excessively chewing or eating food in a certain order
  • Cooking meals for others that they don’t eat themself
  • Making excuses to avoid meals or situations that involve food
  • Having a rigid exercise regiment that takes precedence over fatigue, illness, injury, etc
  • Has a preoccupation with dieting, food, weight, calories
  • Refusing to eat certain foods, that may progress into restricting against entire categories
  • Frequently commenting about feeling “fat” despite having lost weight
  • Overly restrained emotional expression and initiative
  • Expressing the need to “burn off” any calories consumed
  • Worried about eating in public
  • Low spontaneity
  • Has a major fear of gaining weight
  • Has inflexible thinking
  • Has a distorted view of their body shape or weight
  • Denying the seriousness of having a low body weight
  • Has a strong need to be in control
  • Feeling ineffective
  • Withdrawal from friends and usual activities
  • Having an undue influence of their weight or shape on their sense of self worth

Finding Treatment

As a disease that may lead to cardiac failure or electrolyte imbalances, anorexia nervosa can prove to be fatal. This highlights the importance of accessing treatment as soon as a problem is identified. Furthermore, the type of treatment a specialist suggests will likely depend on the severity and other particulars of someone’s situation. For people living in the United States, Eating Disorder Hope offers a webpage that helps individuals find eating disorder treatment on a state-by-state basis using an interactive map. Another way to find help is by contacting an eating disorder hotline.

If you or a loved one is in a state of crisis, you can text “NEDA” to 741-741 and reach a properly trained volunteer at the Crisis Text Line at any time. Additionally, we are here to help you here at Eating Disorder Recovery Specialists. You can reach us via phone (866-525-2766), email, or by filling out our contact form.

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