Diagnosing anorexia can be difficult. If you are a family member or friend of someone with anorexia, your concerns may be met with resistance. However, successful treatment can only begin with a doctor's visit, so your support and concern should be vocalized in a caring manner.
A person who displays symptoms of anorexia can first seek the help of a family doctor or general physician, but a psychologist, psychiatrist, or other mental health professional may be recommended after the an initial evaluation. The general physician's visit may consist of a physical examination, laboratory tests, and other, miscellaneous tests.
Physical exam - During a physical, doctors record height, weight, BMI (body mass index), blood pressure, heart rate, respiration rate, and body temperature. They listen to the heart and lungs, palpitate the abdomen and examine the skin for dryness and yellowish hue.
Laboratory tests - These may include blood and urine analysis in order to look at your electrolytes and thyroid gland, liver, kidneys and general health.
Miscellaneous tests - Because anorexia is often accompanied by weak, brittle bones, your bone density may be measured. Or, an electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) may be recommended in order to see if your heart has any abnormalities.
A diagnosis of anorexia can be made only after particular criteria are met according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. As you consult with a mental health professional, a variety of patterns will be examined, including beliefs concerning self-image and behaviour (including with food). This may be asked in-person, or a questionnaire may be given.
Once a diagnosis of anorexia is made, treatment can begin. The good news is that anorexia is a treatable disorder. In fact, the sooner anorexia can be treated, the better... because serious physical complications can occur as a result of anorexia. To learn more about how to treat anorexia, read here for more information.
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