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1 Your Role
I want to learn about treatment options for:

2 Basic Information
The Person is:
years old

graduated high school

3 Condition Information
Caron Treatment Centers accepts patients aged 13 years or older. For more information on services available to those 12 and under, please learn more about Caron's Student Assistance Program.
What is anorexia nervosa?

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by the desire to appear thin, the obsessive fear of gaining weight and body dimorphic disorder (distorted self image.) Though prevalent among teen girls, anorexia can affect anyone. People with anorexia feel hunger yet refuse to give their bodies enough food. Some eat as little as 600 calories a day, while others attempt total starvation. Sadly, anorexia is a serious psychiatric disorder that can be fatal if not effectively treated.

Symptoms of anorexia.

Individuals suffering from anorexia experience a variety of symptoms that may include:

  • Extreme thinness
  • Fear of gaining weight
  • Refusal to remain at a healthy weight
  • Obsessing about food
  • Feeling overweight despite extreme thinness
  • Using exercise, vomiting, diet pills or diuretics to maintain their ideal weight
  • Adamant denial of having a problem
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Lanugo (a soft, fine hair that grows on the face and body)
  • Bad breath
  • Interruption of menstrual cycle
  • Electrolyte imbalances
  • Swollen joints or cheeks
  • Distention of the abdomen
  • Hair thinning or loss
  • Low blood cell count
  • Low blood pressure
  • Acne

Causes of anorexia.

While anorexia’s causes are unclear, many anorexic people have a family history of eating disorders. Others begin dieting and trying to lose weight as a means of coping with stressors, like death in the family or divorce. In these cases, anorexia occurs when dieting spins out of control and disorder takes over. For some, perceived societal and cultural pressure to be thin are the driving forces behind the illness. Many anorexics are perfectionists striving for an unattainable ideal.

Treating anorexia.

Anorexia can become a lifelong struggle. If left untreated or treated too late, it can cause serious health problems such as starvation, osteoporosis, brain atrophy, kidney damage and cardiac arrest. Often, these problems can be fatal.

Early treatment, on the other hand, can be very effective. Usually, comprehensive treatment plans first focus on restoring the patient’s health by getting her back to a healthy weight. Next, co-occurring conditions are addressed. Finally, counseling, psychotherapy or other forms of psychiatric therapies are employed to address the initial behaviors and thoughts that caused the disease.