Anorexia is an eating disorder . It occurs when a person's obsession with diet and exercise leads to extreme weight loss. The disorder is considered if a person refuses to maintain a body weight at or above 85% of their ideal body weight. It can be fatal.
A risk factor increases your chance of getting a disease or condition. Risk factors for anorexia include:
Symptoms may include:
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. There may be lab tests. Findings may include:
The goal of treatment is to get you back to a healthy weight and keep you there. 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 therapists 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.
Therapy 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 (such as Zoloft or Prozac) are used. Used alone, antidepressant therapy is not an effective treatment for anorexia.
Medications and supplements may include:
Hospitalization may be necessary if:
If you are diagnosed with anorexia, follow your doctor's instructions .
Last reviewed November 2012 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.