Anorexia - Causes, Symptoms And Treatment Of Anorexia

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Video: Anorexia - Causes, Symptoms And Treatment Of Anorexia

Video: Anorexia - Causes, Symptoms And Treatment Of Anorexia
Video: Eating Disorders: Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia & Binge Eating Disorder 2023, March
Anorexia - Causes, Symptoms And Treatment Of Anorexia
Anorexia - Causes, Symptoms And Treatment Of Anorexia

Anorexia: causes, symptoms and treatment

Modern fashion standards force the fragile minds of young girls to go on rigid diets in order to lose excess weight. Although sometimes this weight is not at all superfluous. However, aligning with thin models from glossy magazines often leads to exhaustion and the development of such a serious disease as anorexia. It threatens not only with a deterioration in appearance, but also with severe health consequences, up to and including death.


  • Anorexia - what is it?
  • Causes of anorexia
  • Symptoms of anorexia
  • Stages of development of anorexia
  • Complications of anorexia
  • Anorexia treatment
  • Answers to popular questions

Anorexia - what is it?


Anorexia is a lack of appetite, complete or partial refusal of food, which leads to a decrease in body weight and the occurrence of many concomitant diseases (somatic, endocrine, oncological, neurological and mental).

Patients are rapidly losing weight, they have nausea, vomiting, after a small amount of food they feel like after overeating.

This term also refers to a disease of the nervous system - anorexia nervosa. This disease occurs when the patient independently provokes weight loss by refusing to eat. At the same time, despite exhaustion, a person will not complain of dangerous symptoms, since he is convinced of his own completeness. Most often, young girls and women who are trying with all their might to lose weight are susceptible to the disease. At the same time, they do not lose their appetite, but refuse to eat normally because of fear of the "extra" pounds.

Also, anorexia can be a symptom of diseases of the lungs, gastrointestinal tract, endocrine and nervous systems, gynecological disorders and mental disorders.

About 20% of women with anorexia die from the disease. The lion's share of them commit suicide.

Anorexia and bulimia can be called the "occupational disease" of the models. They are diagnosed in their circle in 72% of cases.

Causes of anorexia

Causes of anorexia
Causes of anorexia

The range of diseases that can cause anorexia is very wide. Among them are diabetes mellitus, thyrotoxicosis, drug addiction, alcoholism, anemia, various infections, intoxication, depression, anxiety phobias, hormonal and immunological disorders, and so on.

Recently, anorexia nervosa has become widespread. Most often, patients with this form of anorexia suffer from anxiety disorders of the psyche. When anorexia becomes clinical, body weight rapidly decreases, the menstrual cycle and food absorption are disrupted, gastritis and enterocolitis develop. With anorexia nervosa, patients (mainly girls and young women) think that they are prone to obesity, dissatisfaction with themselves, their physical form is manifested. Thus, patients exhaust themselves with hunger, strict diets and excessive physical exertion, and body weight is rapidly decreasing.

In anorexia nervosa, it is important to treat phobic anxiety disorder with psychotherapy and medication. After this, appetite may improve, body weight will gradually be restored. In addition to the main treatment, patients should take vitamins (B, E, A, C) and eat high-calorie, easily digestible food.

Lack of appetite and weight loss can be symptoms of depression: at the same time, other symptoms appear (depression, bad mood, passivity, insomnia, pessimism, etc.)

Treatment with certain drugs: glucocorticosteroids, hormones, psychostimulants, antidepressants, sedatives. In this case, doctors point to drug anorexia.

Various diseases always cause primary anorexia. They have an indirect or direct effect on the appetite center, which is located in the brain. This leads to the fact that a person loses the desire to eat.

When a person develops false anorexia, several groups of factors should influence him at once, including:

  • Hereditary desire for thinness, which is obsessive. Responsible for it are gene regions in 1 and 13 pairs of chromosomes, namely the 1p34 gene. This gene is activated in unfavorable conditions, when a person adheres to an irrational diet, or experiences stress on himself.

  • Biological factors: excess weight and early onset of the menstrual cycle. In addition, impaired neurotransmitters (dopamine and serotonin receptors) may be responsible for the desire for thinness. They are the ones that regulate human eating behavior. Zinc deficiency in the body matters. This problem does not lead to the development of anorexia, but worsens its course.

  • Personal characteristics of a person. If a person is a perfectionist, if he strives to be the best in everything, or has low self-esteem, suffers from a sense of his own imperfection, is insecure, then the risk of developing anorexia is high. Women with such a diagnosis are often particularly careful and pedantic, but they hardly compromise.

  • The influence of society. Excessive thinness is now in vogue, so existing social stereotypes can affect the development of the disease. Sometimes such mental disorders occur due to physical violence that was used against a girl, or because of the emotional shock suffered.

  • The age of the person. At risk are adolescents with an unformed psyche and personality characteristics. Since recently most children are accelerators, the disease tends to rejuvenate.

Symptoms of anorexia

Symptoms of anorexia
Symptoms of anorexia

The most important symptoms of anorexia are decreased appetite and significant weight loss (over 30% of the norm). The disease is also expressed by menstrual irregularities (in women), amenorrhea, weakness, sleep and potency disorders (in men), arrhythmia, muscle cramps. In anorexia nervosa, patients constantly feel that they are unnecessarily full; self-esteem is markedly underestimated and depends on weight.

If you do not deal with the treatment of anorexia, the patient can reach the cachectic stage (degeneration of internal organs), which leads to death.

A very important and dangerous factor is that patients often hide symptoms and methods of losing weight from loved ones. But you should know that the first stage in the development of anorexia nervosa is complexes about excess weight and the adoption of active measures to reduce it.

With anorexia, cardiac arrhythmia develops, which, in turn, due to the lack of potassium, magnesium and other important minerals, can lead to fainting, dizziness and even sudden cardiac arrest.

The patient's skin condition also deteriorates noticeably: it becomes dry, pale, hair falls out, the structure of the nails is disturbed. The digestive and endocrine systems also suffer: severe pain in the stomach, constipation, metabolic disorders, hormonal disruptions, amenorrhea appear. Anorexia has, among other things, serious consequences: depression can lead the patient to suicide.

In addition, the following symptoms of anorexia can be distinguished:

  • A person strives to lose weight by all means. At the same time, it is obvious to other people that he already has a deficiency in body weight. Alternatively, the weight may be normal.
  • Fatphobia, that is, a person suffers from a fear of being overweight.
  • The patient's thoughts are busy counting calories, and he tries to find them there, even where they are not, for example, in tooth powder. Human interests are limited to diets and the process of losing weight.
  • The patient often refuses to eat. He motivates his unwillingness to eat by lack of appetite, he can deceive that he recently had a snack. If he is seated at the table, then he cuts the portions significantly.
  • The patient's thinking is bone. If he is convinced of something, he will, like a fanatic, insist on his righteousness. Often at such moments, a person shows aggression.

Symptoms of anorexia in children

In children under one year old, anorexia will manifest itself clearly. Toddlers cannot hide their refusal to eat. At first, they show displeasure from the very process of feeding, and then they begin to regurgitate food. In this case, the symptoms of any disease from the digestive system will be absent. The baby stops breastfeeding, turns away from the bottle. At an older age, children throw cutlery off the table, purse their lips, do not want to eat the usual foodstuffs that the whole family eats. At the same time, the child may ask for some unusual product, for example, lemon. The child picks up food in his mouth, but does not swallow it and does not chew it, spitting it out into a plate.

It is more difficult to detect anorexia in preschoolers. Itching, constipation and dizziness in children develops in the later stages of the disease. Often adults find out that children have been provoking vomiting on their own for a long time. Parents should pay attention to the kid's refusal from sweets. Anorexia in childhood is often caused by psychological trauma, such as family breakdown.

Stages of development of anorexia

Stages of development of anorexia
Stages of development of anorexia
  1. Primary (initial) stage. This stage can last from 2 to 4 years. Its main characteristic is dysmorphomania. This is manifested by the fact that a person is dissatisfied with his appearance. He has strange thoughts about perfecting his body. In addition, the person becomes depressed. Substrings often invent their own appearance defects. They do not like their rounded figure, belly or thighs seem too full. Sometimes they begin to find other flaws in themselves, for example, large ears, nose or chin. At the same time, girls strive to resemble their ideal in everything, like a famous actress or model. The onset of anorexia can be triggered by careless criticism of a loved one or a remark from people around.

  2. Anorectic stage. During this period, the patient takes active steps towards achieving his own goal. A person loses from 20 to 50% of his weight, he develops somatoendocrine disorders. Girls stop menstruating (amenorrhea). Patients often try to hide the process of losing weight. They are actively involved in sports, while they begin to limit themselves to food. To begin with, the volume of consumed carbohydrate and protein products is cut, after which the diet becomes very tough. Most girls switch to plant foods and dairy products.

    Many patients begin to independently develop sets of exercises for themselves that allow them to lose weight even faster. They shorten the time of night rest, tighten the waist so that food is absorbed more slowly. Then comes the time of "hard" ways to deal with weight: enemas, taking laxatives, artificial induction of vomiting.

    Often, girls purchase special preparations for weight loss, many of which are strong psychostimulants. During this period, patients begin to actively smoke and drink coffee in order to dull the feeling of hunger. Sometimes they resort to diuretics.

    At this stage, people remain physically active and mobile, they continue to go to work or school. However, physical suffering is no longer alien to them. Heart problems appear, dizziness pursues, sweating intensifies. Most often, these symptoms gain intensity after a meal.

  3. The cachectic stage. When the cachectic stage of anorexia comes, girls begin to suffer from somatoendocrine disorders. They develop persistent amenorrhea, and the weight continues to go away quickly. The body of patients is devoid of subcutaneous fat, not only hair, but also teeth begin to fall out. The skin is highly flaky.

    The heart muscle undergoes dystrophic changes. This affects the functioning of the organ, the pulse decreases, the pressure drops. The tips of the fingers and nose become bluish. The body temperature will always be lowered. Blood sugar and hemoglobin levels drop.

    Patients cease to show interest in life, they spend most of the time in bed, they have neither the strength nor the desire to live a normal life. The function of food digestion is greatly affected. Patients suffer from constipation.

Although these patients are severely emaciated, they continue to refuse food. The reason for this is "excess weight". About 20% of such patients die from irreversible changes in internal organs, which are unable to support further life.

Complications of anorexia

Complications of anorexia
Complications of anorexia

The disease is dangerous for its complications. You can deal with them in the early stages of anorexia.

These include:

  • Disorders in the work of the brain. This is manifested by depression, apathy, deterioration of cognitive abilities, emotional lability. The person becomes conflicted and uncommunicative. Many people begin to abuse alcohol and drugs, and suicidal tendencies appear.

  • Drop in immunity. All chronic diseases go into the acute phase. A person often suffers from colds, which end in severe complications. Another consequence of anorexia is frequent stomatitis.

  • Osteoporosis. The patient has more frequent fractures, pains in the spine. Against the background of his deformation, a stoop develops, which was not previously observed.

  • Hypoglycemia. The person suffers from hallucinations, muscle spasms, and cerebral edema. In severe cases, a coma develops.

  • Hypokalemia. This disorder is expressed by symptoms such as: chest pain, increased heart rate, muscle weakness, muscle pain, constipation, paralysis, intestinal obstruction.

  • Diseases of the cardiovascular system with the development of heart failure, a decrease in blood pressure, depletion of the heart muscle, a slowdown in the heart rate.

  • Hormonal disbalance. High levels of stress hormones (adrenaline and norepinephrine) lead to depression and hysteria. Women often remain infertile and develop persistent amenorrhea. Metabolic processes in the body are slowed down, which is facilitated by a drop in the level of thyroid hormones.

  • Disruptions in the digestive system. People suffer from liver diseases, colitis, gastritis, enteritis. Internal organs undergo dystrophy phenomena and descend into the small pelvis.

  • General disorders: anemia, vitamin deficiency, malfunctioning of internal organs.

The most formidable complication of anorexia is death.

Anorexia treatment

Anorexia treatment
Anorexia treatment

Coping with anorexia is very difficult. This is a serious pathology that requires long-term treatment. Its main goal is to restructure the human psyche. Of course, it is necessary to return the lost body weight, but if you do not rebuild the patient's worldview, then all efforts will be unsuccessful. It is important to find out the factor that became the trigger for the development of anorexia.

Many people seek medical help before they develop severe disabilities. Therefore, therapy can be carried out at home. If anorexia has a running course, then the person is hospitalized. In addition to taking medications, he will need psychological help. All family members and those close to the patient should work with doctors.

Weight gain

The first stage of the therapeutic diet should be characterized by a reduced calorie content. A person needs to receive no more than 1600 kcal per day, which depends on the degree of exhaustion of the patient. Then the calorie intake is gradually increased.

You need to eat in small portions, but often. At first, the dishes should be liquid, semi-liquid, mushy. It is prepared in a gentle way. Do not fry food.

The patient should receive about 3 liters of water per day. Often these patients take diuretics, so their body suffers from dehydration.

The menu is gradually expanding, introducing products - sources of animal proteins and fatty amino acids.

A person should be on the medical menu for about 2 months, then he is transferred to a standard diet. Food is prepared as usual. Until the body weight returns to normal, a person should receive high-calorie meals.

Taking medications

There are no drugs that would save a person from anorexia. However, most patients are prescribed antidepressants to cope with their mental health problems.

In addition to psychotropic drugs, patients are prescribed vitamins and minerals, dietary supplements, antihistamines. All this will increase your appetite. Sometimes they resort to decoctions of medicinal herbs, for example, mint, lemon balm, coltsfoot.


Patients with anorexia need the help of a psychologist no less than medical correction. A person is taught anew to love food. He shouldn't treat her like an enemy. It is important to instill an understanding that food helps the body to continue to live, make it healthy and strong.

The patient needs to be fully supported, he must learn to treat his body correctly, stop hating excess weight. A person needs to be able to overcome any stressful situations on his own. The closest circle of the patient, his relatives and friends are involved in work. The psychologist explains to them how to work with the patient correctly.

Treatment of children with anorexia

Recommendations for the treatment of children with anorexia:

  • The diet should be adjusted. Minor deviations can be allowed, but they should not exceed a quarter of an hour.
  • You should not give your child sugary snacks.
  • If the baby is actively moving, playing, playing sports, then he should come to the table half an hour after the end of physical activity. This will allow him to rest and feel hungry.
  • Food needs to be made aesthetically pleasing to the child. You can beautifully cut vegetables and fruits, add any other decorations.
  • All distractions must be eliminated. This applies to TVs, smartphones, tablets, etc.
  • For the child to think that the portion is small, it must be served on a large plate.
  • If a child refuses to eat at lunchtime, then there is no need to punish or praise him. You should limit it in snacks until your next meal.
  • If the child has difficulty swallowing food, then you can allow him to drink it with a little warm water.

Answers to popular questions

Answers to popular questions
Answers to popular questions
  • The husband refuses to eat for the last six months. First, he cut back on portion sizes, and then began to say that he had no appetite, or he was sick of the smell of food. How to deal with this situation? The husband needs to be sent to the doctor as soon as possible. An MRI of the brain should be done. Loss of appetite often signals a hidden illness. A brain tumor or tuberculosis cannot be ruled out.

  • I had a cold with otitis media. The appetite after the illness disappeared, I don't feel like eating, but I force myself. How to deal with this situation? Appetite during illness always decreases. After its completion, it should stabilize. To find out the cause of your condition, you need to contact a therapist and a nutritionist. The doctor will help you create an optimal menu, recommend missing vitamins, and may prescribe sedatives. This will help bring your appetite back to normal.

  • I notice that my daughter began to refuse food. I caught her trying to provoke vomiting. She has lost a lot of weight and leaves home all the time. He says he attends training. Academic performance has declined. What should I do? You should try to talk to your child frankly. Perhaps now the girl has some kind of hidden problem, for example, a conflict at school. You need to convince her to visit the doctor and get treatment if he prescribes it. The situation you described indicates anorexia, so you should not hesitate with professional help.


Article author: Mochalov Pavel Alexandrovich | d. m. n. therapist

Education: Moscow Medical Institute. IM Sechenov, specialty - "General Medicine" in 1991, in 1993 "Occupational Diseases", in 1996 "Therapy".

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