Many people ask us about anorexia and effect of the condition. There are many serious anorexia nervosa effects. Without treatment, the condition can be fatal. Even with treatment, some people die.
There are also many psychological effects of anorexia, which are often not considered in the face of such serious physical consequences. We’ll look at both effects of anorexia here.
Physical Anorexia Nervosa Effects
When looking at anorexia and effect of the disorder, it’s important to understand the seriousness of the condition. The body requires a minimum amount of calories just to support simple body functions. For most people, this is about 1200 calories a day. People with anorexia eat far fewer calories than this, and so their bodies are unable to function normally.
The earliest effects of anorexia include things like weakness, dizziness, fainting, fatigue, constipation, bloating, and stomach pains. These things are uncomfortable but usually don’t cause any serious physical harm. They will get worse, though, the longer the disease continues.
As the disease progresses, more serious problems result, such as low blood pressure (hypotension), slow heartbeat (brachycardia), irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia), electrolyte imbalances, skin disorders, and stomach ulcers. These conditions are usually reversible with medical treatment, but they can be dangerous if treatment is not given.
Even more serious problems result if there is still no treatment. Things like osteoporosis (bone loss), liver disease, kidney disease, a weakened heart muscle, and infertility may result. These things are not reversible. They can be treated but will never go away.
Once this point is reached, the risk of heart failure is very high. The condition can now be fatal.
Psychological Anorexia Nervosa Effects
When looking at anorexia and effect of the disorder, it’s also important to understand the psychological effects. These can also be very serious, and they must be addressed if recovery is to occur.
People with anorexia are often depressed. It can be a “which came first, the chicken or the egg” type of thing. Did they develop anorexia because they were depressed, or did they become depressed because they are anorexic? Probably some of both. The depression will usually get worse as the disease advances, though. Anxiety may also result.
People with anorexia also have a low self-esteem. They experience feelings of worthlessness (which is also a symptom of depression).
They often develop other self-destructive behaviors, such as self-mutilation. They may cut or burn or otherwise harm themselves as a way of coping with painful emotions. For people who self-mutilate, treatment with professionals experienced in dealing with that issue is paramount. Not everyone understands self-mutilation, and an inexperienced treatment provider could end up doing more harm than good.
People with anorexia often withdraw from social situations, particularly those involving food. Relationship difficulties may develop and a lack of a support system often develops due to this behavior. The anorexic is often secretive about how much food they eat and may become annoyed or angry when people express concern about their food intake or weight.
Other psychological anorexia and effect include a lack of interest in doing things previously enjoyed (maybe due to general fatigue, maybe due to depression, or a combination of both). This and low-self esteem can be partially responsible for the withdrawal from social situations and the difficulty maintaining relationships.
Dealing with Anorexia Nervosa Effects
Dealing with anorexia nervosa effects requires professional treatment, both medical care and mental health care. The anorexia and effect it causes will not go away without treatment. Treatment often takes a long time, six months or more of intensive treatment, followed by some level of continuing care. It is important to seek treatment as soon as possible because the longer the disease progresses, the more serious the effects. Follow this link for more detailed information on anorexia treatment.