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Loss of Appetite

You may lose your appetite if you’ve got a stomach bug or if you’ve just survived an upsetting day at work. These events don’t leave lasting scars. But when a loss of appetite lingers for more than a couple days, you may have a serious physical or emotional disorder that requires treatment. Visit a medical doctor who also provides mental health treatment in New York, New Jersey and Florida. That medical professional reaches a diagnosis, learns why you aren’t eating and finds ways to restore your appetite. Online Psychiatrists is a mental health practice that ensures you receive appropriate treatment when you experience unexplained behaviors. Discover the underlying cause of your appetite loss, so you can get back to healthy eating and healthy living. Call today for an appointment.


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Why Have I Lost My Appetite?

Loss of appetite can be a sign of either a physical or mental illness. Mental health conditions like anxiety or depression often seep over into many other areas of your life, including your interest in eating. Avoidance of food or eating less than you need to stay healthy may also be a sign of substance abuse or an eating disorder.

Different people react differently to anxiety and depression. Online Psychiatrists offers professional psychiatric services in New York, New Jersey and Florida, either through in-person visits or online telepsychiatry options. This service includes the diagnosis and treatment of mental health problems that may affect your appetite, such as:

How Can I Tell When My Loss of Appetite Is a Problem?

Overwhelming feelings of grief, stress or sadness can make eating much less appealing. That may be acceptable for a day or two. But when your desire to eat is drastically reduced for an extended period of time, it leads to other health problems such as unwanted weight loss and malnutrition.

If you’ve lost your appetite, you may not notice at first. Some signs that you’re no longer interested in eating include:

  • Skipping or avoiding meals
  • Pushing food around on the plate
  • Eating much smaller portions than usual
  • Feeling nauseous or queasy when you try to eat

The medical term for appetite loss is anorexia. This isn’t the same thing as anorexia nervosa, which is an eating disorder. If you have anorexia, meaning a loss of appetite, you have no desire to eat. A person with an eating disorder such as anorexia nervosa feels hungry, but deliberately restricts food intake because of a preoccupation with weight gain.

Can Anxiety Lead to Loss of Appetite?

When you think of the signs of anxiety, loss of appetite is probably not the first thing that comes to mind. In fact, binge eating and the urge to consume food that’s high in salt or sugar are more common coping methods for many who suffer from anxiety.

But some people have the opposite reaction to anxiety; they find it difficult to eat at all when they’re feeling anxious. For these people, anxiety can:

  • Cause you to be so preoccupied with your problems that you ignore your body’s hunger cues, leaving you with no desire to eat
  • Trigger the release of stress hormones in your body, which suppress your appetite
  • Cause other physical symptoms, such as muscle tension, shakiness and nausea

These symptoms make the thought of eating even more unappealing. They are uncomfortable and dangerous. They can lead to malnutrition.

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Does Depression Lead to Loss of Appetite?

Depression is a mood disorder that affects how you feel, think and act. It can decrease your ability to function effectively in all areas of your life. People with depression often experience:

  • A sense of hopelessness
  • Fatigue
  • A loss of interest in things that used to bring pleasure, which can include enjoyment of food
  • A feeling of being overwhelmed by the thought of eating and the tasks surrounding it, such as cooking or doing dishes

When you’re depressed, your body undergoes metabolic, endocrine and immune system changes. These can lead to changes in brain activity that regulate depression. Brain changes vary from one individual to another, but in a depressed state, loss of appetite is a common symptom. But like anxiety, some people have the opposite experience: an urge to eat more.

How Can I Identify the Cause of Appetite Loss?

When you or a loved one is experiencing loss of appetite, try to identify the cause. Most forms of mental illness are characterized by additional symptoms, such as extreme mood swings, insomnia, difficulty concentrating and changes in energy levels.

If appetite changes are related to anxiety or depression, treatment through talk therapy and medication makes a difference. Untreated mental health problems decrease your enjoyment of life, making simple tasks seem difficult and disrupting your work and relationships. For expert psychiatric evaluation of your loss of appetite or other symptoms of mental health problems, contact Online Psychiatrists for an evaluation.

Updated on Nov 18, 2021 by Dr. Zlatin Ivanov (Psychiatrist ) of Online Psychiatrists

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