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Anorexia Nervosa

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Anorexia nervosa

Overview | Treatment | Images


An eating disorder associated with a distorted body image that may be caused by a mental disorder. Inadequate calorie intake results in severe weight loss (see also bulimia and intentional weight loss).

Alternative names

Eating disorder - anorexia nervosa

Causes, incidences, and risk factors

The exact cause of this disorder is not known, but social attitudes towards body appearance and family factors play a role in its development. The condition affects females more frequently, usually in adolescence or young adulthood. Gorging followed by vomiting (spontaneous or self-induced) and inappropriate use of laxatives or diuretics are behaviors that may accompany this disorder. Risk factors are being Caucasian, having an upper or middle economic background, being female, and having a goal-oriented family or personality. The incidence is 4 out of 100,000 people.


In some cases, prevention may not be possible. Encouraging healthy, realistic attitudes toward weight and diet may be helpful. Sometimes, counselling can help.


* weight loss of 25% or greater * cold intolerance * constipation * menstruation, absent * skeletal muscle atrophy * loss of fatty tissue * low blood pressure * dental cavities * increased susceptibility to infection * blotchy or yellow skin * dry hair, hair loss * depression (may be present

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is a serious, potentially life-threatening eating disorder characterized by self-starvation and excessive weight loss.

Anorexia Nervosa has five primary symptoms:

* Refusal to maintain body weight at or above a minimally normal weight for height, body type, age, and activity level.

* Intense fear of weight gain or being "fat."

* Feeling "fat" or overweight despite dramatic weight loss.

* Loss of menstrual periods in girls and women post-puberty.

* Extreme concern with body weight and shape.

The chances for recovery increase the earlier anorexia nervosa is detected. Therefore, it is important to be aware of some of the warning signs of anorexia nervosa.

Warning Signs of Anorexia Nervosa:

* Dramatic weight loss.

* Preoccupation with weight, food, calories, fat grams, and dieting .

* Refusal to eat certain foods, progressing to restrictions against whole categories of food (i.e., no carbohydrates, etc.).

* Frequent comments about feeling "fat" or overweight despite weight loss.

* Anxiety about gaining weight or being "fat."

* Denial of hunger.

* Development of food rituals (i.e., eating foods in certain orders, excessive chewing, rearranging food on a plate).

* Consistent excuses to avoid mealtimes or situations involving food.

* Excessive, rigid exercise regimen--despite weather, fatigue, illness, or injury, the need to



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