Anorexia Nervosa- Symptoms and Treatment

July 31, 2020

Anorexia Nervosa- Symptoms and Treatment
Share the article

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder where you have an extreme fear of eating. You are always hungry, but refuse to eat because of fear of gaining weight. You have an unreasonable fear about weight gain and are never satisfied about your weight. You perceive yourself as overweight and exercise heavily in addition to following a strict diet to reduce weight when you are already below your normal weight.

Who gets Anorexia?
Anorexia nervosa generally affects those in show business or sports field where weight and looks are very important. This condition is more prevalent among women than men, but there has been a gradual increase among men in recent times.

Anorexia nervosa is prevalent among







Figure skaters

Character traits of the high-risk group

High achievers





Anorexia generally strikes during puberty, when it is common to obsess over looks and weight. If untreated, anorexia will damage heart, brain and kidneys. It will lead to a drop in blood pressure, pulse, breathing, fluid-electrolyte imbalance, irregular heartbeat and brittle bones. In severe cases it can result in death from starvation or suicide.

Causes of Anorexia nervosa
The causes of anorexia nervosa may be physical, psychological, hereditary or social.

Physical causes of anorexia nervosa
Hormonal imbalances could affect your mood, appetite, thought process and memory, leading to distorted self-perception and unreasonable expectations

Psychological causes of anorexia nervosa
When you feel your life is beyond your control, you wish to assert your dominance by controlling your appetite and food. It is a coping mechanism that helps you get over your feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, anger and loneliness. It can also be a by-product of bad relationships.

Hereditary causes of anorexia nervosa
Anorexia may be inherited as a family history of anorexia makes you predisposed towards getting it.

Social causes of anorexia nervosa
A society that lays excessive value on physical appearance, where thin is equated to beauty and where peer pressure forces you to confirm with a perceived perfect shape and size may also contribute towards the condition.

Symptoms of Anorexia nervosa
You may be suffering for anorexia if you have the following symptoms:

Rapid weight loss over a period of weeks or months

Following strict diet even when your weight is lower than your ideal body weight

Obsessing over calories, nutrition etc.

Low self-esteem or obsession about appearance/ weight

Depression/ anxiety/ irritability/ social withdrawal

Infrequent/ missed menstrual periods

Compulsive exercising/ purging

Dry nails, brittle hair, yellow skin, anaemia, constipation, tooth decay, swollen joints, low tolerance of cold

Can anorexia nervosa be treated?
Anorexia can be treated, but the challenge is in diagnosing. People suffering from anorexia almost never acknowledge their condition. You will have to first accept that you need help and approach a doctor. When anorexia is diagnosed, you will require the help of a psychiatrist of a psychologist. If you require emergency medical care for heart or other problems caused by anorexia, you will first be treated for the specific condition. When you have recovered from it, you can start your treatment for anorexia.

Anorexia nervosa treatment will include:

Medication to control anxiety, improve appetite and sleep

Psychotherapy, counseling to help you change your way of thinking and develop healthy attitudes

Nutrition counseling to help you achieve a healthy approach towards food and weight

Group and Family therapy to help you develop a support network that understands your condition and helps you overcome it

Recognition of your condition and accepting that you need help are the crucial first steps in successful treatment. With a high degree of commitment, the right treatment and strong support from family and friends, you can get back to normal life and health.

Rela multispeciality hospital offers one of the best psychiatric services in Chennai. Our comprehensive approach to mental health, world class medical services and the best psychiatrists, psychologists, counsellors and nutrition experts will help you overcome all your psychological and emotional problems.

Disclaimer: We recommend consulting a Doctor before taking any action based on the above shared information.



Dr. Prarthana Saraswathi

Dr. Prarthana Saraswathi

MBBS, MD Psychiatry

Consultant Psychiatrist

Chat with us!
Chat with us