Anorexia nervosa natural history, complications and prognosis
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- Complications can be severe. A hospital stay may be needed.
- Complications may include:
- Bloating or swelling
- Bone weakening
- Electrolyte imbalance (such as low potassium)
- Dangerous heart rhythms
- Decrease in white blood cells, which leads to increased risk of infection
- Severe dehydration
- Severe malnutrition
- Seizures due to fluid loss from repeated diarrhea or vomiting
- Thyroid gland problems, which can lead to cold intolerance and constipation
- Tooth decay
- Anorexia is thought to have the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder, with approximately 6% of those who are diagnosed with the disorder eventually dying due to related causes. The suicide rate of people with anorexia is also higher than that of the general population and is thought to be the major cause of death for those with the condition. A recent review suggested that less than one-half recover fully, one-third improve, and 20% remain chronically ill.
- Women who develop this eating disorder at an early age have a better chance of recovering completely. However, most people with anorexia will continue to prefer a lower body weight and be very focused on food and calories.
- Weight management may be hard. Long-term treatment may be needed to stay at a healthy weight.
- Herzog, David B; Greenwood, Dara N; Dorer, David J; Flores, Andrea T; Ekeblad, Elizabeth R; Richards, Ana; Blais, Mark A; Keller, Martin B (2000), "Mortality in eating disorders: A descriptive study", International Journal of Eating Disorders, 28 (1): 20–26
- Pompili M, Mancinelli I, Girardi P, Ruberto A, Tatarelli R. (2004) Suicide in anorexia nervosa: a meta-analysis. Int J Eat Disord, 36 (1), 99-103. PMID 15185278
- Steinhausen HC. (2002) The outcome of anorexia nervosa in the 20th century. Am J Psychiatry, 159 (8), 1284-93. PMID 12153817.