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Anorexia Nervosa Health Center

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Understanding Anorexia -- Diagnosis and Treatment

How Do I Know If Someone Has Anorexia?


Possible warning signs include:

Understanding Anorexia

Find out more about anorexia:



Diagnosis and Treatment

  • Significant weight loss
  • Intense fear of getting fat
  • Turning away food
  • Denying hunger
  • Constant and excessive exercise
  • Cold sensitivity
  • Absent or irregular menstrual periods
  • Hair loss
  • Tooth decay
  • Fatigue
  • Social isolation
  • Vomiting or misuse of laxatives, diuretics, or enemas




What Are the Treatments for Anorexia?

Treatment for anorexia must address both psychological and physical problems. The treatment team should include a mental health professional and a primary care doctor.

Successful treatment usually includes continuous medical care, regular therapy, nutritional counseling, and sometimes medication. Although antidepressants can be used to treat some eating disorders, they are not always effective for anorexia.

Doctors should pay attention to bone loss, electrolyte levels in the blood, and heart function. Psychologists and other types of mental health professionals can help a person let go of self-destructive thoughts and behaviors and adopt a more positive outlook. Support groups of other recovering anorexics -- when properly moderated by a mental-health professional -- can also be very helpful.

Treatment usually is successful, but it doesn't work overnight. Long-term psychological and medical attention usually is needed.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD on April 10, 2014

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