Although it is well known that anorexia nervosa is a fatal disorder, the mortality rate varies considerably between studies. This variation may be due to the length of follow-up, the ability to find people years later, or other reasons. In addition, it is not known for certain whether other subtypes of eating disorders also have high mortality. A number of recent articles have shed new light on these issues through the use of large samples followed for many years.
Most importantly, they solve the problem of tracking people over time by using national registries that report when people die. Papadopoulos article studied more than 6000 people with AN for 30 years using Swedish registries. Overall, people with anorexia nervosa had a six-fold increase in mortality compared to the general population. Causes of Death Include Starvation, Substance Abuse, and Suicide.
Importantly, the authors also found an increase in the mortality rate from “natural” causes, such as cancer. Anorexia can cause several short- and long-term effects. Short-term health risks include weight loss, gastrointestinal problems, fatigue, dehydration and hair loss, among others. Anorexia puts incredible stress on the digestive system.
Abdominal distension and constipation are very common among people with anorexia. Because anorexia is often combined with bulimic behaviors, the purging or vomiting that this entails can expose the digestive system to excess stomach acid and cause conditions such as reflux esophagitis. In addition, there are also some more serious health risks of anorexia that can occur, especially if anorexia is not treated for a longer period of time. In fact, anorexia nervosa has one of the highest mortality rates compared to other mental health conditions, second only to opioid overdose.
People with anorexia usually have a low level of red blood cells, which can lead to fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness, and a rapid heart rate, all signs of anemia. Brain scans of people with anorexia reveal that the brain undergoes structural changes or abnormal activity during illness. A person suffering from anorexia may experience nausea, stomach pain, bloating, vomiting, constipation, and dizziness. Anorexia statistics can be used to provide important information to eating disorder specialists to determine possible causes and risk factors, warning signs, and best treatment methods for anorexia.
All of the mental and physical health effects caused by anorexia seem overwhelming and impossible to overcome when someone is in the throes of the disorder. Crow and colleagues found that crude mortality rates were 4.0% for anorexia nervosa, 3.9% for bulimia nervosa, and 5.2% for eating disorders not otherwise specified. In severe cases, the long-term health risks of anorexia can lead to nerve damage affecting the brain and other parts of the body. Fatigue is often seen in people with anorexia as a result of lower food intake and nutritional deficiencies.
Many people with anorexia nervosa feel very embarrassed and guilty about their disordered eating, and may withdraw from their social circle as a result of these feelings. While medical interventions and weight gain can often repair some of the damage, some of the following long-term consequences of anorexia may be irreversible:. When looking for an anorexia nervosa treatment center for yourself or a loved one, it's important to find one that individualizes each treatment plan. To prevent weight gain or continue to lose weight, people with anorexia often severely restrict the amount of food they eat.
Professionals treating anorexia nervosa can use behavioral therapies such as CBT to retrain the brain and identify these types of thoughts as disordered, an important milestone for recovery. .