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Anorexia: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and More

Victory Bay

Anorexia, or anorexia nervosa, is an eating disorder that revolves around a fear of gaining weight or a distorted perception of your weight. It is often characterized by abnormally low body weight. Anorexia can severely impact your life and health. 

While on the outside, it looks like anorexia is a problem with food, in reality, there are often underlying issues and co-occurring disorders that the control over food is trying to solve.  [

Symptoms of anorexia

Someone struggling with anorexia will typically go to extreme lengths to lose weight or maintain low body weight. This may be done by heavily monitoring calorie intake, restricting the amount or types of food eaten, excessive exercising, and misusing diet pills and laxatives. Often, in cases of anorexia, emotional issues are covered up by the disorder and thinness is connected to self-worth.  


It can be difficult to notice the signs and symptoms of anorexia right away. Just because there is a decrease in food consumed does not mean that the person anorexia is affecting will automatically be very thin, as everyone’s body weights are different.  

Physical symptoms of anorexia can include:

  • Extreme weight loss 
  • Fatigue 
  • Dizziness 
  • Dehydration 
  • Fainting 
  • Very thin appearance  
  • Thinning hair or hair loss  
  • Loss of tooth enamel from bingeing and purging  
  • Changes in menstruation cycles  
  • Changes in bowel movements, sometimes constipation  


In addition to the physical, there are a lot of emotional and behavioral symptoms associated with anorexia.

Emotional and behavioral signs and symptoms can include:

  • Excessive exercising  
  • Fear of gaining weight
  • Obsession with food  
  • Dieting and fasting  
  • Very strict with food consumption and intake  
  • Skipping meals frequently  
  • Not eating in public  
  • Lying about their food consumption  
  • Bingeing and purging (by way of vomiting, using laxatives, diet supplements, enemas, etc.)  
  • Wearing baggy clothing to hide dramatic weight loss  
  • Insomnia 
  • Irritability  
  • Reduced sex drive  
  • Changes in mood  

Causes of anorexia

It can be hard to pinpoint the exact cause of anorexia. There are a number of factors to consider such as biological, psychological, and environmental.  


Some people’s biological/genetic makeup might make them more prone to anorexia. Psychologically, when there are co-occurring disorders, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or character traits such as perfectionism, it can be easier to develop an eating disorder like anorexia. It doesn’t help that in modern-day culture, there is often a large focus on thinness. This is an environmental factor that can influence someone’s eating disorder, as it can be hard to escape certain body ideals that are posted across movies, television, music, and social media. 


There are significant risk factors to consider with anorexia. A lack of proper nutritional intake can severely affect your health. Anorexia is most common among teenagers where proper nutrition is essential for mental, physical, and emotional growth. Whether someone is severely underweight or not, they can experience some following risks.  

  • Bone loss  
  • Loss of muscle 
  • Absence of menstruation cycles in females 
  • Decreased testosterone levels in males  
  • Anemia 
  • Heart problems 
  • Kidney issues  
  • Gastrointestinal issues  
  • Low levels of blood potassium, sodium, and chloride 
  • Mood disorders 
  • Depression 
  • Anxiety
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder 
  • Alcohol and substance abuse 
  • Suicidal thoughts  

Treating anorexia

Anorexia and other eating disorders are treatable. You or someone you care about might not think there is a problem, but if any of the above signs and symptoms are prevalent, it’s a good idea to seek help from a medical professional. 

Recovery with Victory Bay

At Victory Bay we’re here to help you achieve a new life with a new start in recovery. To learn more about the variety of treatment programs we offer, including mental health, eating disorders, and substance use, contact us today by calling 855.239.5099.