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.
Medical Symptoms of Anorexia
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
Excessive or compulsive exercise
Lack of Menses
Absence of or delayed onset of or sporadic/light menses
Fatigue, cold-intolerance, dizziness and/or hair thinning/loss
Behavioral Warning Signs of Anorexia
Extreme weight loss
Fear of weight gain
Strange eating habits or food rituals
Denial of hunger or weight loss
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.
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
Low blood sugar
Constipation, bloating and other gastrointestinal issues
Amenorrhea (loss of menses in women)
Low testosterone (in males)
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 for anorexia is customized to support adults and adolescents that are acutely ill, experiencing medical and mood instability due to their condition.
The residential program offers medically stable patients a highly structured and supportive 24-hour environment for care.
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.
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.
Anorexia FAQ/More Information
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.
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.
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.
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.
There are many misconceptions about anorexia, including the fact that it is simply being too thin.
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.