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Anorexia is an eating disorder in which the person restricts the amount of food they eat, which results in severe weight loss. To maintain this low weight the sufferer will restrict food intake, over exercise, vomit and use laxatives and diuretics. The desire t keep their weight low results from the sufferer regarding themselves as overweight.

      A person with anorexia may:

          • lose 25% of his or her original body weight
          • have a distorted body image
          • be fearful of gaining weight
          • not menstruate
          • exercsie excessively
          • feel fatigued
          • have constipation

Eating Disorders Links


The physical effects of anorexia can be sometimes very serious, they can include:

  • an irregular heartbeat
  • decreased oxygen availability
  • heart failure
  • sudden death
  • kidney dysfunction
  • low blood pressure
  • urinary tract infections and damage to the colon
  • severe sensitivity to the cold
  • growth of down-like body hair
  • poor concentration
  • irrational thinking
  • dehydration, constipation, diarrhoea
  • seizures, muscle cramps or spasms
  • chronic indigestion
  • loss of menstruation or irregular periods

    The psychological effects of anorexia may be:

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • social withdrawal
  • mood swings
  • unpredictable behaviour
  • personality changes

    The sufferer may also have feelings of:

  • guilt
  • shame
  • self-disgust
  • self-loathing
  • suicidal thoughts



    The causes of anorexia are uncertain, but many factors that may cause the development of anorexia are:

  • biological factors such as the physical changes associated with adolescence and genetic or familial factors
  • social factors including the pressure to achieve and succeed
  • psychological factors such as major life changes or a fear of the responsibility of adulthood
  • personality characteristics such as perfectionism, low self-esteem and the need to seek approval from others Although the exact causes of anorexia are unknown, there is a higher rate of women who suffer from anorexia rather than men, and the general age of onset if between 12 and 21.



    Diagnosis is usually performed by a doctor, psychologist or psychiatrist. The medical professional will interview the sufferer, and family and friends. The doctor may also do a physical exam and look into the sufferer's medical history, and possibly the families medical history.

    Anorexia is treatable, but can involve intense forms of treatment. The goals of treatment are to promote weight gain, and to correct malnutrition and psychological problems. The types of treatment can vary from person to person depending on the severity of the illness, but may generally include:

  • medical management
  • nutritional counselling
  • individual, group and family psychotherapy
  • behaviour modification therapy

    Treatment can be performed out of hospital, but it is sometimes required that the sufferer is hospitalised. Hospitalisation may only occur when the person is so thin and so malnourished that they must be fed food and nutrition through a tube. A full recovery is possible, although it is important to bear in mind that anorexia can recur later in life.



    Serotonin neuronal function and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor treatment in anorexia and bulimia nervosa

    There is also a Health Translations Online Directory that enables you, health practitioners, and those working with culturally and linguistically diverse communities to easily find reliable translated health information.

    The Directory provides web links to online multilingual resources across the health sector including government departments, peak health bodies, hospitals, community health centres and welfare agencies.


    The factual information on this page was compiled from:
    Health Answers (http://www.healthanswers.com), Beryl Net (http://www.beryl.net/yourhospital/htl/22702.htm) and
    The Eating Disorders Foundation of Victoria Inc. (http://www.eatingdisorders.org.au)

    by people who have had experience with Anorexia.

    Please send us your comments and experiences with Anorexia to share with others.

  • Your feedback and input will be greatly appreciated.

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