Eating Disorders: Anorexia Nervosa
Eating disorders symptoms vary with the particular type of eating disorder.
When you have anorexia nervosa (an-o-REK-see-uh nur-VOH-suh), you're obsessed with food and being thin, sometimes to the point of deadly self-starvation.
Anorexia signs and symptoms may include:
• Refusal to eat and denial of hunger
• An intense fear of gaining weight
• A negative or distorted self-image
• Excessive exercise
• Flat mood or lack of emotion
• Fear of eating in public
• Preoccupation with food
• Social withdrawal
• Thin appearance
• Trouble sleeping
• Soft, downy hair present on the body (lanugo)
• Menstrual irregularities or loss of menstruation (amenorrhea)
• Abdominal pain
• Dry skin
• Frequently being cold
• Irregular heart rhythms
• Low blood pressure
There is no single cause for eating disorders. Although concerns about weight and body shape play a role in all eating disorders, the actual cause of these disorders appear to result from many factors, including cultural and family pressures and emotional and personality disorders. Genetics and biologic factors may also play a role.
The exact cause of eating disorders is unknown. As with other mental illnesses, there may be many causes. Possible causes of eating disorders include:
• Biology. There may be genes that make certain people more vulnerable to developing eating disorders. People with first-degree relatives — siblings or parents — with an eating disorder may be more likely to develop an eating disorder, too, suggesting a possible genetic link. In addition, there's some evidence that serotonin, a naturally occurring brain chemical, may influence eating...