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Anorexia Nervosa - What Happens

Anorexia almost always begins with a plan to follow a strict weight-loss diet. Over time, severely limiting foods leads to malnutrition and unhealthy weight loss.

As malnutrition sets in, the brain and metabolism change. This limits the appetite, how your body uses food, and your ability to think clearly and make good decisions. As the illness gets worse, irrational behaviors begin, such as making rules about food or making yourself vomit out of fear of gaining weight.

Starvation and malnourishment from anorexia can cause complications, such as osteoporosis or an irregular heartbeat. Often other mental health conditions occur along with anorexia, such as depression.

Early treatment works best

After anorexia starts, returning to normal eating is very hard without help. When left untreated, anorexia can last for a lifetime.

Early treatment of anorexia offers the best chance of recovery. People who have anorexia tend to strongly deny that they have a problem and are secretive about their eating. So their family members or loved ones usually have to get help for them.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 27, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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