April 9, 2022

Anorexia Long Term Side Effects

Anorexia, which is also known as anorexia nervosa, is a dangerous eating disorder and a severe mental illness. Avoiding food and over-exercising are two ways people with anorexia seek to control their weight and body image. They fear gaining weight immensely and end up limiting their food intake, leading to starvation. But unfortunately, too much loss of weight can lead to serious health issues and even death. If not treated, anorexia can result in different health problems and have long-term effects on a person’s health. 

According to epidemiological studies, anorexia is more common in females than in males and begins during the teen years. Treatment intervention is required to stop the condition from continuing throughout adulthood.

Long Term Effects Of Anorexia

The mental health community takes anorexia as a severe illness that can impact almost every part of your life. Minor effects might include poor general health and infections. However, more severe cases could lead to more severe health problems and even death. In addition, since anorexia frequently affects young people, the condition can continue up to adulthood and even last for an entire lifetime.

Psychological and Emotional Effects

Teenagers and adolescents with anorexia usually have a high chance of struggling with other mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, substance abuse, or personality disorders.  People with anorexia are also more likely to experience suicidal ideation or attempted suicide.

Physiological Effects

The most common physiological effects that come with anorexia include heart and bone problems. In addition, starvation and dehydration that comes with Anorexia reduce mineral and fluid levels, resulting in a condition known as Electrolyte Imbalance.

Potassium and calcium are some of the electrolytes needed to produce the electrical currents required by the body to maintain a regular heartbeat. Therefore, electrolyte imbalance can be severe and life-threatening if these minerals and fluids are not replaced.

Another long-term health side effect of anorexia is loss of bone calcium. The majority of women with anorexia usually suffer from Osteopenia (loss of bone calcium).

More than 40 percent of people with anorexia may also have osteoporosis (a progressive loss of bone density).

Over two-thirds of teenage girls and children with anorexia usually don’t have strong bones in their critical period of growth. Boys often suffer from stunted growth, too. The less the weight, the more severe bone loss.

Generally, heart disease is the leading cause of death in those people with severe anorexia nervosa.

Neurological Problems

Long-term consequences of anorexia might result in nerve damage. This can affect the brain as well as other parts of the body. For example, seizures and peripheral neuropathy (tingling or numbness in the feet or hands) are very common, especially in severe cases of anorexia.

Brain scans done on anorexia patients show abnormal activity or many changes in brain structure during the disease. Some abnormalities have been resolved with weight restoration, but others will remain after recovery.

Treatment Options For Anorexia

Anorexia requires immediate treatment. However, people with anorexia can resume healthy eating habits and average weight.

Starting anorexia treatment immediately is vital in finding recovery and reducing the chances of related health risks. Treatment for anorexia often consists of various approaches, such as;

Psychological Therapy

This involves counseling that changes the behavior and thinking of the affected person. It includes practical approaches to developing a positive attitude toward food, weight, and strategies that change how people react to challenging situations.


The health care professional can prescribe anti-anxiety and depression medication to help with anxiety and depression related to anorexia. For example, Prozac can help with depressive symptoms and healthy weight maintenance. Prozac belongs to the SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) class of drugs. SSRIs help to raise serotonin levels, which are tied to mood.   Patients can also take Zyprexa to help with weight gain and obsessive thinking.

Nutritional Counseling

Nutrition counseling builds a healthy attitude towards food and weight and the significance of a balanced diet. It also helps to return to normal eating patterns.


Severe weight loss due to malnutrition can sometimes require hospitalization. Other serious complications, such as heart disorder and severe mental health conditions like depression, might require close monitoring from a health care provider.

Bottom Line

Understanding these long-term side effects of anorexia is an essential step in seeking treatment. If you have an adolescent or a teenager struggling with mental health issues, contact Chapman House Behavioral Health Centers today at 714-386-1163
for professional help. Your teen will get the proper treatment and nutritional counseling to maintain good overall health.

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