Rapid, unintentional weight loss can be a worrying experience. Sometimes people lose weight in response to stressful life events such as losing a job, moving house, or bereavement. In other cases it can be the sign of an underlying medical condition. While there may be harmless factors that cause you to lose weight without meaning to, if the weight loss is over 5% in a six month period, doctors recommend a medical check-up.
If your weight loss is a stress response, you should expect your weight to normalize once your life returns to normal. If stress or anxieties are stopping you living a normal life, it could be a good idea to undergo a course of therapy or counselling. Everybody has different ways of dealing with stress. Many people find counselling helpful.
Eating disorders can also cause sudden and unexpected weight loss. Anorexia and bulimia are the most common eating disorders. If you suspect you are suffering from an eating disorder, you can talk in confidence to a doctor or seek help from one of the many voluntary organizations and self-help groups that exist.
If there has been no change to your diet or fitness regime, you don’t feel stressed and haven’t got an eating disorder, and your unintentional weight loss continues for more than a few months, you should seek medical advice without delay. Your weight loss could be due to an underlying illness. If that is the case, you will need diagnosis and treatment to get your weight back to normal.
It is not always easy to find the underlying causes of rapid, unexpected weight loss. A medical professional will carry out blood tests, a physical examination, and assess your medical history. Using this information your doctor will make a reliable diagnosis and recommend a course of treatment.
Depending on the severity of your underlying condition, should you have one, treatment could range from making dietary changes, through therapy and counselling, to a course of medicine. Once your treatment is effective and your unintentional weight loss arrested, you will need further support to build your strength and get your weight back to normal. Once you have returned to full health, you may need to return to your doctor for occasional check-ups
If you are losing weight when you don’t want to, and you don’t understand why, you should always seek medical advice. There is no need to worry. Most causes of sudden weight loss are treatable. Your doctor will advise you and help you return to good health as soon as possible.