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What is Anorexia Nervosa?

Anorexia nervosa – oftentimes simply called anorexia – is a serious medical and mental health condition that can be life-threatening without treatment. Anorexia is one of the most deadly mental illnesses. Due to this complexity, this condition requires comprehensive anorexia treatment from an experienced, multidisciplinary approach to include medical and psychiatric stabilization, nutritional intervention and psychological support.

Symptoms & Warning Signs of Anorexia Nervosa

One of the most common misconceptions about anorexia nervosa is that sufferers are underweight, which is not always the case. In many instances, a patient with anorexia may appear to be healthy when they are malnourished. That’s why it’s important to understand all the warning signs and symptoms of anorexia.

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Medical Symptoms of Anorexia

Low Weight

Weight at or below 85 percent of Ideal Body Weight (IBW) for age

Dramatic Weight Loss

Significant/dramatic decrease in normal growth chart curve for weight

Exercise

Excessive or compulsive exercise

Lack of Menses

Absence of or delayed onset of or sporadic/light menses

Physical

Fatigue, cold-intolerance, dizziness and/or hair thinning/loss

Behavioral Warning Signs of Anorexia

Extreme weight loss

Calorie Restriction

Food obsession

Fear of weight gain

Strange eating habits or food rituals

Denial of hunger or weight loss

Compulsive exercising

What Causes Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia is a bio-psycho-social illness, meaning that biological, psychological and sociocultural aspects contribute to the development of the illness. This means that anorexia – or any eating disorder, for that matter – is not a choice. There are clear causes of anorexia that individuals need to be aware of.

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Anorexia Nervosa Health Risks

The most serious health risk of anorexia is an increased mortality rate. Other health risks associated with anorexia are also very serious, including:

  • Cardiac complications (ranging from irregular heart rhythms to heart failure)

  • Heart, kidney and liver failure

  • Bone loss/osteoporosis

  • Anemia

  • Electrolyte imbalances

  • Low blood sugar

  • Constipation, bloating and other gastrointestinal issues

  • Amenorrhea (loss of menses in women)

  • Fertility challenges

  • Low testosterone (in males)

  • Suicide

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Get Help at Our Anorexia Treatment Center

If you or someone you know is struggling with anorexia, we urge you to seek help immediately. Professional help for anorexia offers individuals the best chance for a full and complete recovery.

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Types of Treatment at ERC

At Eating Recovery Center, we specialize in treatment for anorexia by providing medical and psychiatric stabilization, including nutrition, rest, medication and management of co-occurring conditions.

Our anorexia treatment is available in Inpatient, Residential, Partial Hospitalization and Intensive Outpatient levels of care. We also offer virtual care for patients who are eligible. ERC is the nation's only health care system dedicated to the treatment of eating disorders at all levels of care.

Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient treatment for anorexia is customized to support adults and adolescents that are acutely ill, experiencing medical and mood instability due to their condition.

Residential Treatment

The residential program offers medically stable patients a highly structured and supportive 24-hour environment for care.

Partial Hospitalization Treatment

Our PHP anorexia treatment program offers the same treatment found in our residential program, while allowing patients to practice recovery outside the controlled environment after hours at home or a peer-supported apartment.

Intensive Outpatient Treatment

The IOP anorexia treatment program is a flexible option for those who work, go to school or care for loved ones during the day.

Is recovery from anorexia nervosa possible?

The good news is that, with proper treatment, a full and lasting recovery from anorexia is possible. If you think that you or a loved one might need help, please take our short anorexia self-assessment test or call us at 877-825-8584 to schedule a free, confidential consultation with an Eating Recovery Center Masters-level clinician.

Eating Recovery Center is the nation’s only vertically integrated healthcare system dedicated to the treatment of eating disorders, like anorexia, at all levels of care. ERC's anorexia treatment center includes inpatient treatment, residential treatment, partial hospitalization treatment and intensive outpatient treatment.

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Anorexia FAQ/More Information

What is anorexia nervosa?

Although research about anorexia nervosa is ongoing, there is a lot you can learn about this eating disorder to understand how to get help or help a loved one. Learn more about anorexia, including the causes, symptoms and available treatment options.

What causes anorexia?

As with other eating disorders, anorexia has no singular cause. However, the evolving scientific literature suggests that this pattern of disordered eating develops from a complex interplay between genetic, psychological and sociocultural factors.

What are the health risks associated with anorexia?

There are many health risks associated with anorexia nervosa. Learn about the short-term and long-term risks to understand the effects of this disorder.

How is anorexia treated?

Anorexia treatment is unique to each patient’s needs. Medical stabilization, psychiatric stabilization, nutritional rehabilitation and weight restoration (when appropriate) are considered when determining a patient’s treatment plan.

Learn about anorexia facts and statistics.

There are many misconceptions about anorexia, including the fact that it is simply being too thin.

Do I have anorexia? Take our Anorexia Quiz.

If you or a loved one struggle with some of the symptoms described here, it may be worth speaking with a clinician and considering treatment options.

Eating Recovery Center is accredited through the Joint Commission. This organization seeks to enhance the lives of the persons served in healthcare settings through a consultative accreditation process emphasizing quality, value and optimal outcomes of services.

Organizations that earn the Gold Seal of Approval™ have met or exceeded The Joint Commission’s rigorous performance standards to obtain this distinctive and internationally recognized accreditation. Learn more about this accreditation here.

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