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Anorexia Nervosa: Long-Term Effects of This Eating Disorder

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Anorexia nervosa is a serious and potentially life-threatening eating disorder. Although the condition can be managed, it often takes time for people to undergo therapy and progress through the recovery process. People with anorexia choose to severely restrict their calories and, often, deprive themselves of the sustenance they need for optimum nutrition and health. 

At Resurgence Behavioral Health, we treat behavioral health and mental health conditions, including eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia nervosa. Our treatment center is staffed by licensed clinicians specializing in treating behavioral and mental health disorders. We can prescribe medications and provide both inpatient and outpatient treatment plans. 
Resurgence Behavioral Health is known for compassionate care and a welcoming treatment center. We want patients to feel as comfortable as they progress through their recovery process. Our facility features many amenities and staff expertise.

Powerful compulsions govern eating disorders. It can be incredibly difficult to combat this condition without treatment. Therapists partner with patients to challenge their unhealthy thoughts and emotions and then help them develop strategies for managing their compulsions, like excessive exercise. Our clinicians employ evidence-based treatments like cognitive-behavioral therapy when treating conditions like anorexia. We include some alternative and holistic therapies that are ideal for the recovery process. If you are struggling with anorexia or another eating disorder, you can get help at Resurgence Behavioral Health. The sooner you enroll in treatment, the sooner you can protect your health and future.

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Understanding Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is a potentially life-threatening eating disorder. The disorder is characterized by the compulsion to reduce calories and limit food consumption to achieve a desired body weight/look. People with this disorder will often obsess over calories and exercise obsessively. Reduced food intake can lead to serious nutritional deficiencies and unhealthy body weight. Malnutrition can lead to permanent health damage and even death. Treatment involves psychotherapy, nutritional counseling, and, often, medication. The condition can be managed effectively, but patients must also be aware of the risk of flare-ups. Like many behavioral and mental disorders, eating disorders can be chronic and require ongoing management to prevent symptoms from returning.

Psychological Effects of Anorexia Nervosa

Even though eating disorders seem to focus on physical elements — and do involve physical symptoms — these disorders have a powerful psychological aspect that must be addressed during treatment. People with this disorder feel a psychological compulsion to do what they do–to deny themselves food or exercise obsessively. Often, people with the disorder have a distorted body image that impacts their decision not to eat. People with anorexia generally feel fixated on food intake and calories. Moreover, many continue to limit their food intake even though the disorder may profoundly impact their health and well-being. In short, the psychological effects of anorexia impact the physical well-being of the individual.

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Hailey Thomas
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Physical Health Complications

Anorexia can lead to severe malnutrition and weight loss that can permanently damage the body. For instance, anorexia can cause organ damage and even failure. Other physical complications can include:

  • Bone weakening.
  • Muscle weakness.
  • Muscle wasting.
  • Anemia.
  • Brittle hair and nails.
  • Constipation.
  • Low blood pressure.
  • Increased hair growth all over the body.
  • Dry, yellowing skin.
  • Reduced heart functionality.
  • Heart damage.
  • Lethargy.
  • Infertility.
  • Reduced respiratory function.
  • Multiple organ failure.
  • Brain damage.

Death can occur as a result of some of these symptoms. The sooner a person gets into treatment and begins to manage the disorder effectively, the sooner they can reduce the risks associated with these physical health complications. 

Impact on Fertility and Reproductive Health

People with anorexia may experience a decline in their reproductive health and fertility. A healthy reproductive system is dependent on good nutrition. Malnutrition associated with anorexia can hurt this system, reducing fertility. It’s not uncommon for women with anorexia to experience reduced or ceased menstruation. Males may also experience lower sperm counts. A woman with anorexia who becomes pregnant is likely to require increased monitoring and, possibly, hospitalization to ensure optimum weight gain and nutrition. 

Anorexia’s Effects on Growth and Development

A young person, such as a teen who develops anorexia, may experience slowed growth and development. The body cannot grow and develop without proper nutrition and caloric intake. Clinical staff who treat the condition will invariably consider a person’s specific characteristics, like age, when creating a customized treatment plan for each patient. 

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Social and Relational Impact

There are social and relational impacts of the disorder, too. People with the disorder may feel increasingly isolated. It can be difficult for family and friends to understand the disorder and why a person would deny themself food or try to achieve a body appearance that seems inconsistent with health and aesthetics. Some individuals might become increasingly secretive about behaviors associated with their condition. Fortunately, there are support groups that can help individuals with the disorder. There are also groups designed to help family members understand the disorder and support their loved ones. 

Potential for Recovery and Reversal of Effects

A person can learn to manage this condition effectively. Eating disorders, like many behavioral and mental health disorders, tend to be chronic. There isn’t a sudden ‘cure’ for the disorder. Recovery is possible but tends to be gradual as people learn to manage their triggers to engage in problematic behaviors. Some people may experience a relapse in symptoms during times of high stress.

On the other hand, some people learn to manage the condition successfully and do not experience a recurrence. At Resurgence Behavioral Health, we help people identify the problematic thoughts and emotions that drive the condition. Then, we help them learn ways to cope with their compulsions and unwanted behaviors to maintain their recovery journey. 

Addiction Treatment that
Just Works

Individualized treatment programs delivered in a comfortable, relaxed setting promote healing in your recovery journey.

Treatment Options for Anorexia Nervosa

Clinicians treat anorexia nervosa with evidence-based medical therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy. Various forms of psychotherapy may be used to help people target and change unhealthy thoughts and behaviors. Nutritional counseling is often a major part of anorexia treatment, and it’s not uncommon for individuals to need medications for mental health symptoms such as anxiety. Depending on these symptoms and severity, People with physical symptoms may require other types of medical support. Many people can also benefit from support groups. Meeting with peers and supporting one another can have a therapeutic effect on individuals with the disorder. At Resurgence Behavioral Health, clients can expect to participate in both individual and group counseling in most cases. 

Seeking Help for Anorexia Nervosa at Resurgence Behavioral Health

An eating disorder is not a condition that will go away on its own. This is a serious disorder that can become life-threatening. Resurgence Behavioral Health offers treatment for anorexia as well as other eating disorders. We can help you manage this condition effectively. 
Call Resurgence Behavioral Health at 855-458-0050 to learn about our anorexia treatment enrollment process. We accept many forms of medical insurance. Our treatment center is known for its ultra-comfortable rooms and public spaces. We feature a welcoming and safe setting where patients can get the help they need to achieve their recovery goals. Contact us to begin your enrollment process. Let us help you safeguard your health and well-being.

Josh Chandler
Josh Chandler
After growing up in Chicago and North Carolina, Josh chose to get help with substance use disorder and mental health in California because of the state's reputation for top-tier treatment. There, he found the treatment he needed to achieve more than five years of recovery. He's been in the drug and alcohol addiction rehab industry for four years and now serves as the Director of Admissions for Resurgence Behavioral Health. Josh remains passionate about the field because he understands that one phone call can alter the course of a person's life.

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