How anorexia affects mental health?

Anorexia also known as anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by self-starvation and excessive weight loss. The disorder is diagnosed when a person weighs at least 15% less than their normal and ideal body weight. Excessive loss of weight can result in health problems, even death. People with anorexia have intense fears of gaining weight and see themselves as overweight even when already very thin.

What causes anorexia?

There is no exact cause for anorexia, research suggests that a combination of certain personality traits, emotions and thinking patterns as well as biological and environmental factors might be responsible. Anorexia can have physical causes such as changes in hormones leading to unstable mood, appetite, thinking and memory. Research also suggests that anorexia can run in families suggesting that it is hereditary.

Anorexia and mental health

It is more common in females than in males, the risk of developing anorexia is greater in athletes, actors, models etc. They tend to be very high achievers with obsessive, anxious, or depressive symptoms. People with anorexia often use food as a way to gain sense of control. Usually low self-esteem, anxiety, anger, loneliness, and feelings of inadequacy can lead to the development of such disorder. They tend to get too conscious with their weight standards as thinness equates to beauty.

Symptoms of anorexia

• Whole body: People with anorexia experiences dehydration, dizziness, fainting, fatigue and low blood pressure, low body temperature, osteoporosis etc.

• Behavioural: Binge eating, compulsive behaviour, hyperactivity, impulsivity and social isolation.

• Weight: Weight loss, underweight, thinness.

• Mood: Anxiety, apprehension or guilt.

• Gastrointestinal: Constipation or vomiting.

• Menstrual: Irregular or absence of menstruation.

• Developmental: Delayed puberty and slow growth.


Anorexia nervosa can have serious mental health effects, it can lead to nutritional deficiencies as it restricts food intake. The effects can be life threatening, but counseling, medication and treatment for such health issues can help with this condition. If a person has signs of anorexia, early diagnosis and treatment are more likely to bring positive results.

Anorexia Nervosa

also read: Anorexia Without Being Underweight

and, Diagnosis of Anorexia Nervosa

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