Symptoms may include:
- Excessive weight loss
- Obsession with food, calories, and fat content
- Dieting even when thin
- Intense fear of gaining weight, even when underweight
- Body dysmorphia—distorted self-image of being overweight despite evidence of the opposite
- Basing self-evaluation heavily on body weight or shape
- Loss of menstrual periods or delay in the beginning of periods
- Excessive exercising
- Feeling cold, especially hands and feet
- Being secretive about food
- Hair loss and/or growth of fine hair on the body
- Fainting or severe light-headedness
- Heart palpitations
Anorexia often leads to a number of serious medical problems including:
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The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. There will also be psychological tests.
Your bodily fluids may be tested. This can be done with blood tests.
Your heart's activity may be tested. This can be done with an electrocardiogram.
Your bones may be evaluated. This can be done with a bone density test.
The goal of treatment is to get you return you to a healthy weight and to help you maintain that weight. A healthy weight is above 85% of your ideal weight. To achieve this, your intake of calories is gradually increased. This can be accomplished through a number of interventions, including the following:
A dietician may be consulted to help you learn more about the components of a healthy diet. The dietician will also talk to you about reasonable weight goals and calorie goals.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
help you develop a healthier and more realistic self-image. The therapist will help you find new ways to think about your body and your diet.
can help you understand and cope with concerns about your relationships.
Families often play a role in eating disorders. Many patients cannot recover unless their families are involved in the changes. All families need to understand the disorder and provide support.
In some cases, anorexic patients benefit from a combination of psychotherapy and antidepressant medication. In particular, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors
are used. Used alone, antidepressant therapy is not an effective treatment for anorexia.
Addressing Nutritional Status and Loss of Bone Density
Medications and supplements may include:
- Vitamins and minerals to maintain adequate nutrition
to resume periods and prevent bone loss
Hospitalization may be necessary if:
- Weight is 25%-30% below ideal body weight
- There are signs of serious physical or emotional deterioration
If you are diagnosed with anorexia, follow your doctor's