Some who have anorexia recover with treatment after only one episode. Others get well but have relapses. Still others have a more chronic form of anorexia, in which their health deteriorates over many years as they battle the illness.
According to some studies, people with anorexia are up to ten times more likely to die as a result of their illness, compared to those without the disorder. The most common complications that lead to death are cardiac arrest, and electrolyte and fluid imbalances. Suicide also can result.
Many people with anorexia also have coexisting psychiatric and physical illnesses including depression, anxiety, obsessive behavior, substance abuse, cardiovascular and neurological complications, and impaired physical development.
Other symptoms may develop over time, including:
- Thinning of the bones (osteopenia or osteoporosis)
- Brittle hair and nails
- Dry and yellowish skin
- Growth of fine hair over body (e.g., lanugo)
- Mild anemia, and muscle weakness and loss
- Severe constipation
- Low blood pressure, slowed breathing and pulse
- Drop in internal body temperature, causing a person to feel cold all the time
Treating anorexia involves three components:
1. Restoring the person to a healthy weight;
2. Treating the psychological issues related to the eating disorder; and
3. Reducing or eliminating behaviors or thoughts that lead to disordered eating, and preventing relapse.
Source: National Institute of Mental Health
Anorexia is treatable. Alternative treatment methods are available through eating disorder coach Lori Hanson. A leading authority on eating disorders and award-winning author of "It Started with Pop-Tarts." Lori's story of finding recovery from her eating disorder after 30 years. She offers programs nationally.