Far beyond the desire to lose a few pounds, people with anorexia nervosa or AN have a life-threatening mental health disorder that causes a refusal or inability to eat, despite the increasingly negative effects this lack of nutrients has on the individual's health and well-being. Anorexia nervosa can cause many long-term complications affecting both the body and the mind.
Seven separate studies indicate that people with anorexia nervosa are likely to have reduced gray and white brain matter. The research also shows reductions in the size of various regions of the brain, particularly those involving appetite, weight loss, hormone normalization, and reward. Some of the brain damage may be permanent, but fortunately, recent studies show that post-recovery weight gain can reverse this shrinkage. However, some research suggests the gray matter changes in the brain may persist after recovery.
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