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Home :: Neurology Disorders

Anorexia Nervosa - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment


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Anorexia nervosa is a preoccupation with food and a refusal to maintain minimally normal body weight. It is more common in females. Symptoms may include is weight loss of 15% or greater below the expected weight ,inappropriate use of laxatives, enemas, or diuretics (water pills) in an effort to lose weight , skeletal muscle atrophy ,loss of fatty tissue ,low blood pressure ,dental cavities due to self-induced vomiting ande depression. Gastrointestinal findings include constipation, delayed gastric emptying, and gastric dilation and rupture. Patients who induce vomiting develop dental enamel erosion, palatal trauma, enlarged parotids, esophagitis, Mallory-Weiss lesions, and elevated transaminases. Patients with restricting subtype tend to have more resistance to recovery. Approximately 50% of patients will recover with treatment and maintain a normal weight but often not without relapses and multiple treatment modalities. Mortality is often due to suicide and less frequently to complications of starvation. Drug treatments, such as SSRI or other antidepressant medication, have not found to be generally effective for either treating anorexia. There are various non-profit and community groups that offer support and advice to people who have anorexia.

Causes of Anorexia Nervosa

Common Causes and risk factors of Anorexia Nervosa

  • Psychological problems.
  • Biological factors (Genes, hormones , and chemicals ).
  • Sociocultural factors.
  • Environmental factors.
  • Stressful events.
  • Low self-esteem.

Signs and Symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa

Common Sign and symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa

  • Depression or anxiety.
  • Dehydration.
  • Fatigue.
  • Dry Skin.
  • Menstrual irregularities.
  • Weight loss.
  • Hoarding food.
  • Low blood pressure.

Treatment for Anorexia Nervosa

Common Treatment for Anorexia Nervosa

  • Psychotherapy. Individual, family and group therapy may all be beneficial. Individual therapy can help deal with the behavior and thoughts that contribute to anorexia.
  • In addition, family therapy can help resolve family conflicts or muster support from concerned family members. Family therapy can be especially important for children with anorexia who still live at home.
  • Group therapy offers a forum to connect to others facing eating disorders. For some people with anorexia, group therapy or support groups can result in competitions to be the thinnest person there.
  • Nutritional therapy. A dietitian can provide specific meal plans and calorie requirements to help meet weight goals.
  • Medications. Antidepressants or other psychiatric medications can help treat accompanying mental disorders, such as depression or anxiety.
  • Supplementation with 14mg/day of zinc is recommended as routine treatment for anorexia nervosa