Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that can lead to numerous health issues. Side effects of anorexia can be unexpected, including the development of seizures. Someone who has anorexia may experience seizures, even if they do not have epilepsy or an epileptic condition.
Anorexia Side Effects: Causes of Seizures
Anorexia can cause seizures for several different reasons, including:
- Dehydration: Dehydration occurs when the body does not get enough fluids. Many people who have anorexia starve themselves, don’t drink enough water, abuse laxative drugs and force themselves to vomit. All of these behaviors can deplete the body of necessary fluids and cause dehydration. When the body is dehydrated, the kidneys and heart can fail and seizures can occur.
- Malnutrition: A person who has anorexia does not eat a balanced diet and therefore does not give their body the nutrition it needs. Chronic malnutrition from irregular eating habits, including eating too little or eating unhealthy foods, can lead to fainting and seizures.
- Refeeding syndrome: People who have anorexia may experience instances of refeeding syndrome. This syndrome happens when someone who has been starving quickly eats many calories. Refeeding syndrome can send the body into shock, causing irregular breathing, heart failure and seizures.
- Medications: Some antidepressant medications can cause seizures in people who have anorexia. Given that most drug side effects are listed, including the risk of seizure, it’s up to the person to decide whether the benefits outweigh the risk of seizures.
Not everyone who has anorexia will experience seizures, but seizures are a severe side effect that should not be taken lightly. Professional anorexia treatment can lower a person’s risk of seizure and other potentially life-threatening side effects of anorexia.
Misra M, Shulman D, Weiss A. “Anorexia.” J Clin Endocrinol Metab, May 1, 2013. Accessed February 20, 2019.
Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.