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Anorexia Nervosa Health Center

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Anorexia Nervosa - Topic Overview

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People who have anorexia:

  • Weigh much less than is healthy or normal.
  • Are very afraid of gaining weight.
  • Refuse to stay at a normal weight.
  • Think they are overweight even when they are very thin.
  • Deny the seriousness of their low body weight.
  • Base their self-esteem on how they view their body weight and shape.

Their lives become focused on controlling their weight. They may:

  • Obsess about food, weight, and dieting.
  • Strictly limit how much they eat.
  • Exercise a lot, even when they are sick.
  • Vomit or use laxatives or water pills (diuretics) to avoid weight gain.

If your doctor thinks that you may have an eating disorder, he or she will compare your weight with the expected weight for someone of your height and age. He or she will also check your heart, lungs, blood pressure, skin, and hair to look for problems caused by not eating enough. You may also have blood tests or X-rays.

Your doctor may ask questions about how you feel. It is common for a treatable mental health problem such as depression or anxiety to play a part in an eating disorder.

All people who have anorexia need treatment. Even if you, your child, or someone else you care about has only a couple of the signs of an eating disorder, get help now. Early treatment gives the best chance of overcoming anorexia.

Treatment can help you get back to and stay at a healthy weight. It can also help you learn good eating habits and learn to feel better about yourself. Because anorexia is both a physical and emotional problem, you may work with a doctor, a dietitian, and a counselor.

If your weight has dropped too low, you will need to be treated in a hospital.

Anorexia can take a long time to overcome, and it is common to fall back into unhealthy habits. If you are having problems, don't try to handle them on your own. Get help now.

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