Anorexia is an eating disorder that is treatable but deadly. Read about symptoms and causes of anorexia as well as treatment.
The rapid weight loss is often associated with an abnormal fear and/or fascination with food and an obsession with body size and weight. Women who suffer from anorexia nervosa have the desire to become thinner and thinner to the point where their life is in danger.
Sometimes women who are very outgoing and successful in their social and professional lives need help to stop anorexic behavior. Anorexia often happens to women who suffer from low self-esteem. A variety of factors makes these women want to be dangerously thin while also causing them to experience a drastic misperception of their body size as well as distorted sensations of hunger and satiety. While anorexic women can be overachievers, they often exhibit unusual amounts of anxiety, causing difficulty in decision-making. An anorexic woman will often want to cook and control others’ eating while restricting her food intake. The anorexia sufferer may isolate more and more by eating alone and being moody and/or hostile. If the erratic behavior is mentioned by family or friends, the anorexic may isolate even more.
Causes of Anorexia
We have created a special page dedicated to the many causes of anorexia that may contribute to a woman’s eating disorder. Every woman is very different with regard to her anorexic eating and the factors that contributed to the development of her eating disorder. We have found that it is critical to explore the underlying issues that may be contributing to the disorder, but there is nothing positive to be gained by the family or loved ones feeling responsible or guilty about the anorexia nervosa.
In fact, we have found that there is such a wide variety of influences on the women we treat for eating disorders that several or all of the following factors can contribute to the disorder:
(You can read about these factors in more detail on our page outlining the causes of anorexia.)
Every woman is so unique that our experience has taught us to spend a great deal of time and energy assessing the woman and learning about her experiences in life to determine which factors might have contributed to the anorexia nervosa. This allows our staff of eating disorder clinicians to create a personalized recovery program to give the woman as much help as possible to stop the eating disorder.
The Victorian Approach to Treating Anorexia Nervosa
- One-on-one therapy
- Group therapy
- Body image groups
- Nutritional education
- Assistance with preparing and consuming meals in a group
- 12-Step support groups
- Highly monitored and structured living arrangements
- Art Therapy
- Volunteer Opportunities in the community
- Supervised group outings to restaurants (in phases 3 and 4
There are also physical fitness requirements and outdoor activities that build self-esteem and teach the women how to “have fun, feel good about yourself, AND follow a healthy diet regimen.” For more detailed information, view our eating disorder treatment daily activities schedule.
Diagnostic Criteria of Anorexia Nervosa
The Victorian uses a very thorough screening and assessment process to help us diagnose anorexia nervosa in the women who come to us for help. You can begin the healing process of receiving treatment for anorexia for you or your loved one by calling us at (888) 268-9182 or filling out a confidential online eating disorder assessment form.
We have also created a brief introductory eating disorder treatment quiz which will help women who may be anorexic (and their families) understand the need for treatment.
Physical Symptoms of Anorexia:
- Substantial self-induced weight loss or failure to gain normally, resulting in less than 85% of healthy growth
- Amenorrhea (loss of menses) for three months
- Interruption of normal growth
- Decreased libido
- Thinning hair
- Dry skin and dry or chapped lips
- Poor circulation, brittle fingernails, and frequent/easy bruising
Psychological Symptoms of Anorexia:
- Irrational (morbid) fear of fatness coupled with an intense drive for thinness
- Body image distortion and excessive reliance on weight or shape for self-esteem
- Exhibiting symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Low self opinion/low self-esteem
- Exhibiting symptoms of depression
Interpersonal/Relationship Symptoms of Anorexia:
- Secretive eating habits
- Problems getting along with family members/long-time friends
- Angry when confronted about food or weight
Behavioral Symptoms of Anorexia
- Excessive/unhealthy exercise
- Prone to fainting spells due to malnutrition
- Self-harm (“cutting” or even suicide attempts)
Who is “At Risk” for Anorexia?
Any man or woman of any age can develop anorexia nervosa. We have noticed certain patterns and common behaviors and backgrounds in the women who have come through The Victorian over the years, but the fact is that:
- There is no “typical anorexic girl”
- There are numerous exceptions to every rule
- We have seen more instances of men suffering from anorexia in recent years
The studies we’ve conducted point to anorexia being especially common in young women between the ages of 18 and 25. This demographic represents approximately 40% of all the cases of anorexia we’ve treated. We have seen anorexia in seniors as well, and it is possible for anorexia nervosa to develop in older men and women for the first time well into their 40s, 50s, or even 60s.
Anorexia Treatment Center
The Victorian is the leading treatment center for anorexia in California. Our highly effective eating disorder treatment program, combined with our 25 years of treatment experience as part of Sober Living by the Sea has connected us to the top therapists, counselors, doctors, and psychiatrists in Southern California – the recovery capital of the world.
When a woman comes to The Victorian for treatment of anorexia nervosa, she will be extensively assessed and screened for physical and mental issues, and the appropriate level of care will be provided immediately. The woman will live in a stunning home with other women who are recovering from an eating disorder, and will receive a comprehensive treatment program.