Long-Term Effects of Anorexia Nervosa: Physical & Mental Health

Long-Term Effects

What are ?

Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by an irrational fear of gaining weight and an obsessive desire to restrict food intake. While recovery is possible, the long-term effects of anorexia can be catastrophic on both the physical and mental health of those affected.

Physical Long-Term Effects

Long-term physical effects of anorexia can include:

  • Osteoporosis – strong bones are needed to support weight, but the low calorie intake and low body weight associated with anorexia can shrink bones, leading to osteoporosis.
  • Heart and organ damage – severe restriction of calories can lead to irregular heartbeat, hair loss, and infertility.
  • Gastrointestinal issues – out-of-control emotion and interest in food can lead to eating patterns that disrupt digestion.
  • Malnutrition – the restriction of food can lead to malnutrition, leading to a weakened immune system.

Mental Long-Term Effects

Along with physical effects, anorexia can take an emotional toll as well. Mental long-term effects of anorexia can include:

  • Depression – deeper feelings of worthlessness and fear of weight gain can deepen depression and suicidal thoughts.
  • Anxiety – the obsession of food and weight can increase levels of anxiety.
  • Social isolation – looking and feeling different can cause people with anorexia to become isolated from social activities.
  • Obsessive behavior – preoccupation with food and weight can lead to other obsessive behaviors.

Anorexia Nervosa Treatment

As the effects of anorexia can be long-term and often life-threatening, early intervention is essential. Treatments generally involve a combination of therapy, nutrition counseling, and medical care. Treatment is tailored to each individual and can involve:

  • Psychotherapy – talking to a professional can help to address underlying causes of anorexia and change unhealthy behaviors.
  • Medication – medication can be used to supplement therapy, such as anti-depressants or anti-anxiety drugs.
  • Nutrition therapy – nutrition therapy can helpteach correct portion sizes and recognize healthy behaviors.
  • Hospitalization – in extreme cases, inpatient care and hospitalization may be necessary.

Early intervention is the key to recovery. With proper treatment and support, those with anorexia nervosa can lead happy, healthy lives.

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