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What are the Effects of Anorexia?

Dulce Corazon
Dulce Corazon

Anorexia nervosa, commonly known as anorexia, often presents with numerous adverse effects to the whole body of the person suffering from it. The skin becomes unusually sensitive to cold, and is dry, brittle and easily bruised, and shows growth of fine baby hair or lanugo. Other effects of anorexia include irregular heart beats, which can lead to heart failure; osteoporosis, which can lead to bone fractures; and amenorrhea, or absence of menstrual periods. There are also frequent incidence of electrolyte imbalance, anemia, constipation, bloating, and infections seen in these patients. Mental problems also often arise, such as mood changes, poor memory, inability to think straight, and irritability.

Individuals suffering from this condition often go to great lengths to hide the physical effects of anorexia. Many sufferers wear baggy pants and loose shirts to disguise their bony and sometimes skeletal appearance from others. At first, the effects of anorexia are a rapid loss of weight from diet restrictions and excessive exercises. As these activities continue, individuals with anorexia become more obsessed with weight loss to the point of starving themselves and using other means to lose more weight, such as taking diuretics and laxatives.

Rapid weight loss is a key sign of anorexia.
Rapid weight loss is a key sign of anorexia.

There are many signs and symptoms which can help family members recognize anorexia in their loved ones. These include obsessive watching of calorie counts, continued dieting even when already very thin, always thinking of food but never eating it, refusal to eat with the family, eating only very small portions, or just pretending to eat. Sufferers also often deny having eating problems and frequently complain of being fat despite their skin and bones appearance.

Parental divorce can cause some teenage girls to become anorexic.
Parental divorce can cause some teenage girls to become anorexic.

People suffering from the long-term effects of anorexia need immediate medical care and psychological rehabilitation. When the body becomes malnourished for a long time, numerous functions are usually affected, with some organs possibly having irreversible damage. The condition, however, is often treatable and patients have greater chance of recovery with the help of medical experts and the support of family members.

The factors that lead to the development of anorexia are still unknown. Some studies attribute it to inherited genes, to Western culture, and the environment an individual is exposed to, as well as an imbalance of chemicals in the brain. It is generally defined as an eating disorder as well as a mental disorder characterized by very low body weight, obsession with weight loss despite being already too thin, and extreme fear of weight gain.

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Discussion Comments


I'm an Asian teen girl, 16 years old, 5'2 and weigh 100 pounds. I always think about food, all kinds of foods: Mexican, American, Asian. But I don't eat much. I've lost about 6-10 pounds in the last three months. I only eat once a day.

I've quit smoking pot so I won't have the "munchies," and everybody tells me I'm skinny, but I don't see it. I mean I do, but then I don't. My hip bones pop out a little, but I don't see my ribs, so yeah. All I do is lie in bed all day, and I don't know if it because I'm depressed or just a lack of energy. I don't eat a lot when I do eat, and I notice myself eating less and less.

I dream about eating all the time, but I don't actually get to eat it in my dreams. I don't know if it's just because it's impossible to eat in dreams or what. About two or three years ago, eating used to make me feel happy inside, not like I'm actually smiling or anything but just a "everything feels better" feeling. But now when I eat, I only eat because I need to. I can't finish a whole burger. Also, I think that my eating habits are normal because I stay up all night since I'm scared of the dark and sleep all day, and yes I'm in home school. By the time I wake up, it's around 3 or 4 in the afternoon, but I find myself waking up 5 or 6 p.m. now. Today, I woke up at 11:30 p.m.

Well, I wake up and it's almost dinner time or is or past it, so I only eat that dinner plate. I go back to bed and surf the net until morning. I don't eat after I eat my dinner plate because a person should eat three hours prior to going to bed.

I went to the doctor the other day and they said if I lose any more weight I would have to be counseled for anorexia. I did not go there to check my weight. But I asked for it, since they weighed me. My periods have always come in a period or so month period, usually only spotting as well, ever since I started my period.

I don't believe I'm anorexic, but according to this, I am. I mean if I was anorexic why would I have stretch marks? The heaviest I've ever been was probably 110.


I'm certainly not 'bony' and I have never been told I'm 'too thin' but I wanted to lose some weight about a year and a half ago so I stopped eating so much. I've since lost 13 kg but have stayed at my current weight for four months. I eat three substantial meals a day and I have never made myself throw up.

I have however, had many of these symptoms since I first began. I have dramatic mood swings, I can't sleep and am almost always tired, I always think about what I'm eating carefully and get angry at myself when I feel like I've eaten too much and I have only had three periods in the last year and three months. Do you think I have anorexia?


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    • Rapid weight loss is a key sign of anorexia.
      By: Kzenon
      Rapid weight loss is a key sign of anorexia.
    • Parental divorce can cause some teenage girls to become anorexic.
      By: EJ White
      Parental divorce can cause some teenage girls to become anorexic.