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Anorexia Nervosa Treatment

It is estimated that more than 8 million people in this country, many of them adolescents, have the eating disorder anorexia nervosa. Seven million are women, the highest risk group being teenage girls, and one million are men. A study conducted by the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders found that between 5 to 10 percent of these individuals will die within 10 years of developing the condition and 20 percent die early due to a complication from it.

These are startling statistics because anorexia nervosa is one of the most serious mental health concerns in this country. It has the highest mortality rate of any behavioral health illness and requires the highest level of medical and psychiatric care in an anorexia treatment facility.

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What Is Anorexia Nervosa?

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by an extremely restrictive diet, one that can lead to dangerously low body weights, dehydration, and malnutrition. Individuals with anorexia nervosa become obsessed with dieting, weight loss, and body shape. They tend to have an exaggerated view of themselves and how they look despite what people tell them or what they see in the mirror.

Anorexia nervosa is often linked with another potentially life-threatening disorder called bulimia nervosa. For this reason, the best anorexia treatment centers offer programs to deal with both disorders at the same time.

What Causes Anorexia Nervosa?

It’s a question that has never been clearly answered. Most researchers believe it is a combination of factors that lead to eating disorders like anorexia including:

  • Genetics
  • Biology
  • Mental health concerns
  • Environment

What they do know is that anorexia doesn’t really have anything to do with food or weight. It’s about body image and self-esteem. There is some indication that this condition might have a strong genetic component. Individuals who have a genetic predisposition to perfectionism, obsessive behaviors and sensitivity are at high risk for anorexia in adolescence. The focus on body shape and weight may also be a coping mechanism for another mental health illness such as depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder or anxiety.

There are identifiable risk factors that primary care physicians, pediatricians and anorexia treatment centers for teenagers will look for including:

  • A family history of mental illness or eating disorders
  • A fixation on dieting or excessive exercise
  • Mood changes
  • Transitions or extreme life changes like moving to a new city or the death of a parent
  • Gender identity disorder

Anorexia recovery starts with someone recognizing the symptoms of the condition and seeking help.

What Are the Symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa?

Unlike other eating disorders such as bulimia nervosa, anorexia has clear physical and behavioral symptoms. Physical symptoms include:

  • Extreme weight loss
  • Failing to meet developmental milestones
  • Abnormal blood tests like a CBC
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Chronic insomnia
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Discoloration of the fingers
  • Thinning hair
  • Yellowish skin color
  • Dry skin
  • Low blood pressure
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Dehydration
  • Swelling of the arms or legs

Behavioral signs are sometimes the most telling for anorexia in teenage females. Watch for red flags like:

  • Refusing to eat
  • Chronic dieting
  • Excessive exercising
  • Lying about being hungry or eating
  • Hiding food to clear a plate
  • Refusing to eat in public
  • Lack of emotion
  • Social withdrawal
  • Mood swings
  • Talking about being fat
  • Dressing in layers

Most likely, it will be a combination of signs and symptoms that indicate the need for anorexia nervosa treatment.

What Are the Potential Complications From Anorexia Nervosa?

It’s the complications that make this disease deadly. Common concerns include:

  • Self-harm
  • Suicide
  • Substance abuse
  • Anemia
  • Malnutrition
  • Bone loss
  • Muscle loss
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Electrolyte abnormalities
  • Kidney problems

Without anorexia nervosa treatment, a young girl or boy could literally starve to death.

What Is the Treatment for Eating Disorders Like Anorexia Nervosa?

Anorexia eating disorder treatment will include medical and psychiatric care in a residential, homelike setting with behavioral therapy, nutrition counseling, and medical management. Anorexia eating disorder treatment can also involve:

  • Group therapy
  • Individual psychotherapy
  • Acceptance and commitment therapy
  • Dialectical behavioral skill training

Even fun activities like weekly cooking groups are part of the Clementine anorexia eating disorder treatment plan. Effective programs offer an individualized aftercare plan and family support training to help patients find better coping mechanisms and ways to feel their feelings and challenge negative thoughts.

Anorexia recovery is a process that no person has to go through alone. Finding the right anorexia treatment center starts with doing some research. Ask yourself where are the anorexia treatment centers near me and then find one that can help like Clementine. There are four convenient locations around the country and they specialize in treatment for the highest risk group for anorexia — adolescents.


Find out more about our unique approach to eating disorder treatment and recovery.

(888) 228-1253