Anorexia / Starvation Tendency

Anorexia / Starvation Tendency: Overview

Although eventual outcomes of anorexia and starvation are very similar, it is important to rule out one or the other.  Anorexia is primarily psychological and not simply due to appetite loss whereas starvation may be due to physical, environmental or other factors.  Although here we will discuss only anorexia, several of the treatments will also help overcome the effects of starvation.

Diagnose your symptoms now!
  • let The Analyst™ find what's wrong
  • understand what's happening to your body
  • learn what you should be doing right now

Anorexia is a serious eating disorder in which people deliberately starve themselves to lose weight.  No matter how thin they become, they still believe they are overweight.

Incidence; Causes and Development

More than 90% of people with anorexia are females, though a growing number of males now have the disorder.  It usually begins between the ages of 13 and 18.

Anorexia is often triggered by a severe emotional shock.  Common causes are:

  • An overwhelming sense of being out of control, and attempting to take control of one's life by regulating food intake
  • Unrealistic fear of developing an adult body
  • Severe trauma or emotional shock during puberty or pre-puberty
  • Anorexia is known to run in families
  • Abnormal levels of certain chemicals in the brain
  • Frequent dieters stand an 8-times greater chance of anorexia
  • Society's unrealistic emphasis on thinness places certain individuals such as cheerleaders, dancers, runners, models, jockeys, wrestlers, and actresses and actors at higher risk for anorexia.

Signs and Symptoms

Common symptoms include extreme weight loss due to self-imposed starvation; an obsession with food, such as collecting recipes; hoarding food; an unwillingness to eat in public; an irrational fear of gaining weight.

Diagnosis and Tests

A health care provider will generally ask questions about eating habits – how much and what is being eaten – and exercise patterns.  He or she will do blood and other diagnostic tests to eliminate the possibility that weight loss is caused by medical problems.  Referral to a therapist or psychiatrist who understands eating disorders is then possible.

Treatment and Prevention

It is best to get treatment as soon as the symptoms appear, from a psychiatrist specially trained both in treating the disorder and in nutritional counseling.  You may receive cognitive-behavioral, group, relaxation, or psychodynamic therapy.  Your health care provider will help you "relearn" how to eat correctly.  In severe cases, hospitalization may be needed.  Long-term monitoring and support is necessary.

Complications

Without proper treatment, the disorder can be fatal.

Signs, symptoms & indicators of Anorexia / Starvation Tendency:

Symptoms - Food - General

Frequent dieting

Frequent dieters stand an 8-times greater chance of developing anorexia.

Counter-indicators

Symptoms - Hair

Symptoms - Metabolic

Occasionally/regularly/often/always feeling unusually cold

Underweight people often feel cold due to having less fat and muscle mass.  Body fat acts as insulation to keep the body warm; muscle activity generates heat.

Symptoms - Mind - Emotional

Symptoms - Mind - General

Symptoms - Nails

Symptoms - Reproductive - Female Cycle

Symptoms - Reproductive - General

Symptoms - Sleep

Conditions that suggest Anorexia / Starvation Tendency:

Circulation

Coronary Disease / Heart Attack

Being severely underweight can cause heart failure.

Digestion

Lifestyle

Overtraining

Compulsive exercising is a symptom of anorexia.

Mental

Metabolic

Edema (Water Retention)

Semi-starvation can cause edema.  People with eating disorders may interpret the puffiness of edema or any changes on the scale as weight gain or getting "fat" and may panic and purge or take laxatives even more.

Counter-indicators
Normal Weight
Counter-indicators

Organ Health

Kidney Disease

The common medical complications of being severely underweight include kidney damage.

Chronic Renal Insufficiency

The common medical complications of being severely underweight include kidney damage.

Reproductive

Susceptibility To Miscarriages

Anorexia or starvation causes difficulties in conceiving and carrying a baby to term.

Female Infertility

Anorexia or starvation causes difficulties in conceiving and carrying a baby to term.

Amenorrhea

Women with anorexia and/or bulimia often experience amenorrhea as a result of maintaining a body weight that would be too low to sustain a pregnancy.  As a result, as a form of protection for the body, the reproductive system shuts down because it is severely malnourished.

Skin-Hair-Nails

Symptoms - Food - General

Concerned or curious about your health?  Try The Analyst™
Symptom Entry
Symptom Entry
Diagnosis
Diagnosis
Suggestions
Suggestions
LifeMeter
LifeMeter®
Full Explanations
Explanations
Optional Doctor Review
Review (optional)

Risk factors for Anorexia / Starvation Tendency:

Nutrients

Magnesium Requirement

Early symptoms of magnesium deficiency can include fatigue, anorexia, irritability, insomnia, and muscle tremors or twitching.

Supplements and Medications

Low/typical/high Metformin use

Metformin is used to treat type II diabetes, but several studies show that it helps people to lose weight by reducing hunger in people whether they have diabetes or not.  Metformin reduces sugar release from your liver to prevent blood sugar levels from rising too high, so your body doesn't need to produce as much insulin.  Insulin makes you hungry and causes fat cells in your abdomen to fill with fat.  If you are very underweight, see your doctor about lowering your dose or force yourself to eat more food.

Prednisone use

A side-effect of treatment with prednisone can include anorexia.

Symptoms - Food - General

Symptoms - Food - Intake

Counter-indicators

Anorexia / Starvation Tendency can lead to:

Autoimmune

Circulation

Coronary Disease / Heart Attack

Being severely underweight can cause heart failure.

Mental

Musculo-Skeletal

Osteoporosis - Osteopenia

The common medical complications of anorexia/starvation include osteoporosis.

Organ Health

Kidney Disease

The common medical complications of being severely underweight include kidney damage.

Reproductive

Susceptibility To Miscarriages

Anorexia or starvation causes difficulties in conceiving and carrying a baby to term.

Female Infertility

Anorexia or starvation causes difficulties in conceiving and carrying a baby to term.

Recommendations for Anorexia / Starvation Tendency:

Botanical

Goldenseal

Goldenseal, a strong digestive stimulant and tonic to the digestive tract, is especially useful for anorexia nervosa.

Lemon Balm

A mild sedative, spasmolytic, it may also gently help regulate thyroid-stimulating hormone and thyroid function.

Condurango

Condurango is a digestive stimulant for diminished appetite or dietary abuse; is a specific to anorexia nervosa.

Siberian Ginseng

A supportive adaptogen used to improve vitality and stamina.

Valerian Root

A sedative, digestive bitter, and appetite stimulant.

Wild Yam

Wild yam is hormone balancing and an antidepressant.

Oatstraw

A nerve tonic and antidepressant, it also relieves irritation of mucous membranes.  This herb is slow to start acting but is long-lasting.

Fenugreek

A nutritive and digestive tonic used where there is digestive debility and poor nutrition.

Saw Palmetto

A digestive tonic and connective-tissue rebuilder.

Licorice Root

Possesses antidepressant effects, and heals mucous membranes of the digestive tract.

St John's Wort

Used for depression or anxiety that leads to fatigue and adrenal gland exhaustion.

Diet

High/Increased Protein Diet

Protein supplements at 1 to 3 servings per day will help ensure sufficient amino acids and help prevent wasting.

Not recommended

Mineral

Zinc

15mg per day increased to 50mg twice a day may improve mood and appetite.

Psychological

Counseling

Anorexia requires counseling as it is mainly a psychological problem.

Vitamins

Multiple Vitamin Supplement

A multivitamin will help compensate for dietary deficiencies.

Report by The Analyst™
Click to see sample report
Health problems rarely occur in isolation or for obvious reasons

Your body is a highly complex, interconnected system.  Instead of guessing at what might be wrong, let us help you discover what is really going on inside your body based on the many clues it is giving.

Our multiple symptom checker provides in-depth health analysis by The Analyst™ with full explanations, recommendations and (optionally) doctors available for case review and answering your specific questions.

KEY

Weak or unproven link: may be a sign or symptom of; may suggest; may increase risk of; sometimes leads to
Weak or unproven link:
may be a sign or symptom of; may suggest; may increase risk of; sometimes leads to
Strong or generally accepted link: is often a sign or symptom of; often increases risk of; often leads to
Strong or generally accepted link:
is often a sign or symptom of; often increases risk of; often leads to
Definite or direct link: strongly suggests
Definite or direct link:
strongly suggests
Strong counter-indication: often contraindicates; often decreases risk of
Strong counter-indication:
often contraindicates; often decreases risk of
Definitely or absolutely counter-indicates: strongly contraindicates
Definitely or absolutely counter-indicates:
strongly contraindicates
May be useful: may help with
May be useful:
may help with
Moderately useful: often helps with
Moderately useful:
often helps with
Very useful: is highly recommended for
Very useful:
is highly recommended for
Should be avoided: is NOT recommended for
Should be avoided:
is NOT recommended for