Anorexia Nervosa Definition, Reason, Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention

Anorexia Nervosa Definition, Reason, Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention


Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by rapid weight loss.

Sufferers tend to equate a thin body with good self-esteem. Various ways to make the body become very thin.

In addition to a very strict diet, sufferers can try to vomit food or use laxatives so that food comes out quickly.

This condition is certainly very disturbing physical and mental health of sufferers.

However, appropriate therapy can help sufferers of Anorexia nervosa gain a better understanding of themselves.

At the same time, returning one’s eating habits to be healthier.

Anorexia Nervosa Symptom

The main symptom of anorexia nervosa is body weight that is too low. Other physical symptoms include:

  • Excessive weight loss
  • Looks very thin and withered
  • Dry hand skin
  • Dehydration
  • Easily tired
  • Easy to faint
  • Pale from anemia
  • Heart palpitations
  • Kidney disorders
  • Loss of sexual desire

The psychological symptoms of anorexia include:

  • Anxious
  • Depression
  • Feeling inferior
  • Insomnia
  • Concentration drops
  • Fear of gaining weight
  • Easy to get angry
  • Feeling fat even though already thin
  • Obsession with body shape and thin body

Anorexia Nervosa Reason

The exact cause of anorexia nervosa is not known. However, this disease is associated with various factors, including:

Environmental factor

Environmental factors play a very important role in making a person change his appearance to become thin which is obtained in various ways that are excessive.

The pressure of people around also encourages a person to experience anorexia nervosa.

Psychological Factors

Some people with anorexia have obsessive-compulsive behavior disorder (OCD)  or anxiety disorders, so they stick to very strict diets to lose weight.

Biological Factors

Anorexia sufferers are also influenced by genetic disorders and hormonal changes.

This can affect the development of thoughts and desires to make the body very thin and change eating patterns.

Risk Factors

The following are risk factors for anorexia nervosa:

  • Disharmonious family environment
  • Certain job demands, such as flight attendant, model, ballet dancer, and cheerleader
  • Psychological problems, such as perfectionist disorder, dislike of body shape, and low self-esteem
  • History of psychological trauma, such as bullying related to shape or weight and being raped
  • History of premature birth, low birth weight (LBW), multiple births
  • Family history of anorexia

How to Diagnose

Diagnosis of anorexia nervosa is done by means of medical interviews, physical examinations, and supporting examinations. Here’s an explanation.

1. Medical interview

During a medical interview, the doctor will ask questions about food intake consumed every day.

The doctor will find out if there is a great fear of gaining weight, is there a behavior that often looks at body shape and weight, and denies that the body weight is below normal limits.

2. Physical Examination

During a physical examination, the doctor will carry out examinations, such as:

  • Measurement of height and weight
  • Check vital signs, such as blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature
  • Examination of skin and nails

3. Supporting Examination

During the supporting examination, several tests will be carried out as follows:

  • Laboratory

This test will include a complete blood count, urine, electrolyte levels, protein levels in the blood and examination of liver, kidney and thyroid function.

  • Radiology

X-ray examination is carried out to find out disorders in the organs of the lungs, examination of bone density or disorders in the heart.

  • Psychological Test

This test is to find out the patient’s eating habits and way of thinking.

Anorexia Nervosa Treatment

Anorexia treatment is done to relieve symptoms, restore diet and weight, and prevent complications.

Here are some therapies that can be done:

1. Medical Measures

If the patient is dehydrated, has electrolyte disturbances, or has heart problems, he is required to be hospitalized.

If the patient refuses to eat for a long time, a nasogastric tube will be inserted,  which is a tube from the patient’s nose that is connected to the stomach for feeding.

2. Nutrition Counseling

Nutrition counseling is needed by patients to restore healthy eating patterns, as well as provide information about nutrients that are important for the body and a proper healthy diet.

3. Psychotherapy

If the patient has a psychic disorder, cognitive behavioral therapy is needed.

This therapy is performed on adults to help change the patient’s unhealthy mindset and behavior.

The goal is that patients can live a good diet again. They can also get the necessary nutrition and body weight can approach the ideal body weight.

In adolescent and pediatric patients, family-based medical therapy is needed. This therapy involves the family to overcome anorexia and provide support until the patient’s weight is close to normal.

In addition, there is group therapy. In this therapy, anorexic sufferers can share their complaints, difficulties, and also experiences with other anorexic sufferers.

4. Drug therapy

For drug therapy,  selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors  (SSRIs) will be given antidepressants if there is a psychological disorder.


Anorexia can cause various complications, including increasing the risk of death if treatment is delayed.

Here are some complications that can occur:

  • Severe dehydration
  • Malnutrition
  • Osteoporosis
  • Menstrual disturbances for 3 consecutive months
  • Decreased testosterone hormone in men
  • Anemia
  • dull skin
  • Hair loss
  • Heart problems
  • Thyroid hormone disorders
  • Tooth decay
  • Damage to the heart, liver and kidneys
  • Electrolyte disturbances
  • seizures
  • Mood disorder 
  • Personality disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder

When to See a Doctor?

If there are some of the symptoms of anorexia nervosa above, immediately consult a nutrition specialist and clinic so that it doesn’t get worse and prevent complications.

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