Of those suffering from anorexia, 20% will prematurely die from physiological complications related to their eating disorder, including cardiac arrest. Unfortunately, 1 in 5 struggling with anorexia dies by suicide. Anorexia nervosa has the highest premature mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder.

The challenges of getting help for anorexia nervosa

The biggest challenge in treating anorexia nervosa is helping the person recognize that he or she has an illness. Many people with anorexia may not think they need treatment or may be privately concerned about weight gain. Others may not see it as an illness, but rather, endorse it as a lifestyle choice. Their desire to be thin overrides concerns about the serious health consequences that can occur. People often delay treatment until their condition becomes severe.

It may be difficult to identify the signs and symptoms of anorexia, as many often go to great lengths to disguise their illness. They may conceal thinness by wearing layers of clothing, hide their eating habits by eating alone or blame their low body weight on another cause.

When seeking treatment for anorexia, it is important to work with a health professional that specializes in eating disorders.