Anorexia Nervosa - FAQs

Q: What is Anorexia?

A: Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder due to which a person becomes extremely irrational and fearful about their body and of becoming fat.


Q: What happens to the body of a person with anorexia?

A: The anorexic person's body doesn't get the required energy that it normally needs from food and this slows down the normal function of the body, which in turn would affect the individual's health in many undesirable ways.

Q: Can someone with anorexia get better?

A: Yes. People with this disorder can get better. The treatment usually depends on the requirement of the person. The primary goal would be for the individual to get back to a normal weight. Often, eating disorders occur in concurrence with other problems, like depression and anxiety. These problems are also treated along with the anorexia, which will contribute to the general well being of the patient.

Q: Can women who had anorexia in the past get pregnant?

A: If the women fully recover from anorexia they have a better chance of getting pregnant. A woman, who is suffering from anorexia, will not menstruate and hence fails to ovulate. It would be therefore, more difficult for her to get pregnant.

Q: Will someone with severe anorexia nervosa have to go into hospital?

A: Occasionally, a patient with anorexia might suffer weight loss that is so severe that it becomes a threat to his or her life. Then a hospitalised treatment should be seriously considered as an option. If the doctors feel that someone's life is in immediate danger, and t if left with no other option, they may force that individual to be hospitalised for treatment. This is allowed under the Mental Health Act and is called 'Compulsory treatment'.

Q: Can anorexia hurt a baby when the mother is pregnant?

A: If a woman is anorexic and gets pregnant, both the baby and mother can be affected. It is likely that the baby would be born prematurely and with a low birth weight. The mother has a higher likelihood to undergo a miscarriage, deliver by Caesarean section, or have depression after the baby is born.

Q: How can I help if I suspect someone has anorexia nervosa?

A: If you suspect that someone you know has anorexia nervosa or is showing signs of developing it-

  • Try to talk to them and convince them to seek professional help.
  • If they are not willing to discuss their eating problems with you, or become aggressive, suggest asking them to read about the condition.
  • This might help to familiarise them with some of the terminology and will also make them aware of some of the dangers involved.
  • Try and learn about the condition yourself and be prepared to offer whatever support your friend or relative needs, rather than trying to offer the help that you think they need
  • Talk to the person and find out about their thoughts on the reasons involved in developing the condition and also about fear factors involved in giving it up.
  • Once you have got someone to talk about his or her condition, try to explain to them the importance of seeking professional help.
  • Treatment for anorexia nervosa is very effective and the earlier your friend or relative has access to these treatments, the better their chance of recovery.

Q: Which doctor do I consult?

A: It would be necessary to consult a Psychiatrist.

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