What is Anorexia Nervosa?

Anorexia nervosa or commonly called anorexia is an eating disorder characterized by excessive fear of gain weight and impair perception of body shape. The Anorexic sufferers are obsessed with having a thin body.

Knowing anorexia causes is important because the sufferer makes various efforts to get the ideal body shape according to them. To obtain a thin body, they will try hard to limit the minimum portion of food or use drugs such as laxatives and appetite suppressants. They even will continue to exercise excessively because they fear their weight increases.

Anorexia Nervosa - Symptoms, Treatment, and Causes

Anorexia Nervosa Causes

It is not known exactly the anorexia causes. However, the experts link this disease with a combination of environmental, psychological, and biological factors. This disease is generally experienced by women.

This mental disorder can also affect individuals of various ages, but is more common in adolescents and rarely experienced by those over the age of 40. The common factors of anorexia causes are:

  • Environmental. The modern culture views the beauty or good looks, success, and wealth related to the thin body. Moreover, the encouragement from peers can strengthen the desire to have a thin body, especially in young women
  • Psychological. A number of anorexia sufferers have anxieties that make them do a strict diet. Patients also have a strong urge to look perfect, because they feel not thin enough
  • Biological. Although the type of genes associated with anorexia cannot be ascertained yet, experts suspect this condition is triggered by gene changes.

In addition, there are numbers of other factors that can increase a person’s risk of developing anorexia. The following are risk factors of this disease.

  • The family environment is not harmonious
  • Experienced trauma-causing events such as being raped or experiencing bullying to body weight
  • Psychological problems such as difficulty expressing feelings, applying high standards for body shape, low self-esteem, and easily feeling anxious and depressed
  • The assumption and pressure in the society that slim body shape is perfect
  • Born prematurely
  • Brain chemical imbalances that regulate hunger
  • History of anorexia in the family
  • Too many diets
Anorexia Nervosa - Symptoms, Treatment, and Causes

Anorexia Nervosa Symptoms

Anorexia symptoms include physical and emotional symptoms. The symptoms of this disease can also be seen from the behavior shown by the sufferer.

Physical Symptoms

  • Excessive weight loss
  • Looks thin and body weight is not ideal
  • Dry skin due to lack of blood flow
  • Dehydration
  • Teeth are easily damaged
  • Tired easily even fainted
  • Fine hair appears on the face and other body parts
  • Thinning hair and easily fall out
  • Menstrual disorders
  • Swelling of the arms and legs
  • Bluish fingers and toes

Psychological Symptoms

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Fear of weight gain
  • Think too much about body shape and weight
  • Feel fat even though the body weight is below normal
  • Get angry easily
  • Decreased concentration ability
  • Feel Inferior

Behavioral Symptoms

  • Abuse of slimming drugs, diuretics, and laxatives
  • Reflect often to see body shape
  • Hide food
  • Self-injury even up to suicide attempts
  • Often weighing
  • Do not want to eat in public
  • Lying by saying having eaten
  • Withdraw from the social environment
Anorexia Nervosa - Symptoms, Treatment, and Causes

Anorexia Nervosa Treatment

The anorexia treatment is to deal with the physical and mental problems of the patient. The goal is to prevent complications, treat symptoms, restore normal diet and weight, and strengthen the physical and mental of the patient.

Medical Treatment

In patients who experience an emergency condition such as heart rhythm disturbances, electrolyte disturbances, or dehydration, hospital treatment must be given immediately. Likewise for the patient who experiences serious mental disorders, lack of nutrition, and refuses to eat in the long run.

They have to hospitalize soon. If the conditions are severe, the doctor will attach the nasogastric tube to the patient. The nasogastric tube is the installation of a hose from the nose of the patient that is connected to the stomach for the provision of food intake.


For adult patients, the type of therapy chosen is cognitive-behavioral therapy. This therapy aims to restore the patient’s normal diet. So, the patient’s body weight increases. Moreover, this therapy will also help change the mindset and behavior of unhealthy patients and build self-confidence about the patient’s body shape.

Partner Solutions

Get Quick Medical Answer from a Doctor. Just Ask!

Have a medical problem? Connect one-on-one with verified Doctors online or by phone. Pediatricians and other specialists available 24/7.


As for children and adolescents, the therapy that is done is family-based therapy. This therapy involves the patient’s family to overcome eating disorders and help patients achieve a normal weight. Cognitive-behavioral therapy and family-based therapy can also be combined with therapy in groups, together with fellow sufferers of anorexia.

Besides the therapy above, the doctor also prescribes medications such as antidepressants to help treat mental disorders in patients or supplementation to help strengthen bones.