Anorexia Nervosa

  • Anorexia nervosa is characterized by emaciation, a relentless pursuit of thinness and unwillingness to maintain a normal or healthy weight, a distortion of body image and intense fear of gaining weight, a lack of menstruation among girls and women, and extremely disturbed eating behavior.
  • Some people with anorexia nervosa lose weight by dieting and exercise excessively. Others lose weight by self-induced vomiting; or misusing laxatives, diuretics, or enemas.

Signs & Symptoms:

  • Seeing oneself as overweight, even when one is starved or clearly malnourished
  • Obsessions with eating, food, and weight control
  • Weighing oneself repeatedly, portioning food carefully, and eating only very small quantities of certain foods
  • Thinning of the bones (osteopenia or osteoporosis)
  • Brittle hair and nails
  • Dry and yellowish skin
  • Growth of fine hair over body (e.g., lanugo)
  • Mild anemia and muscle weakness/loss
  • Severe constipation
  • Low blood pressure, slowed breathing/pulse
  • Drop in internal body temperature, causing a person to feel cold all the time
  • Lethargy

Other Illnesses and Complications:

  • According to some studies, people with anorexia are up to ten times more likely to die as a result of their illness compared to those without the disorder.
  • The most common complications that lead to death are cardiac arrest and electrolyte and fluid imbalances.
  • Many people with anorexia also have coexisting psychiatric and physical illnesses, including depression, anxiety, obsessive behavior, substance abuse, cardiovascular and neurological complications, and impaired physical development. This makes people with anorexia at at high risk for suicide.

Source: CBS News