Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia Nervosa
Anorexia Nervosa


Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder manifested when a person refuses to eat an adequate amount of food or is unable to maintain minimal weight for a person’s body mass index. Individuals suffering from anorexia often have a distorted body image. Those with anorexia view themselves as fat or bulky in certain areas and have an intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat. The process of restricting becomes a preoccupation and is often obsessive. They may avoid what they perceive as high caloric food and meals, picking out a few foods and eating only these in small quantities, or carefully weighing and portioning food. People with anorexia may repeatedly check their body weight and engage in techniques to control their weight, such as intense and compulsive exercise or abusively use of laxatives, enemas, and diuretics. Girls with anorexia often experience a delayed onset of their first menstrual period or amenorrhea (absence of menstrual periods).


The exact causes of anorexia are not known. Many factors may be involved. Genes and hormones may play a role. Social attitudes that promote very thin body types may also be involved.

Risk factors for anorexia include:

  • Being more worried about, or paying more attention to, weight and shape
  • Having an anxiety disorder as a child
  • Having a negative self-image
  • Having eating problems during infancy or early childhood
  • Having certain social or cultural ideas about health and beauty
  • Trying to be perfect or overly focused on rules
  • Anorexia often begins during the pre-teen or teen years or young adulthood. It is more common in females, but may also be seen in males.


• Refusal to maintain body weight at or above the minimally normal weight for one’s age and height

•Intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat, even though one is underweight

•Disturbance in the way in which one’s body weight or shape is experienced, undue influence of body weight or shape on self-evaluation, or denial of the seriousness of low body weight


If they are untreated, anorexia may lead to osteoporosis, cardiac problems, infertility, depression, difficulties in the relationship, suicide, and even death from medical complications.

Counseling and therapy are very helpful coupled with medical attention to health and nutritional needs are an important aspect of treatment. Treatment can involve medication, psychotherapy, family therapy, and nutrition counseling.

Hospitalization may be needed if there is severe weight-loss or malnutrition, a persistent refusal to eat, or a psychiatric emergency.

The intake of food will be increased gradually to enable safe weight gain.

Treatment of anorexia involves three main goals:

•Restoring weight lost to severe dieting and purging

•Treating psychological disturbances associated with body image issues

•Achieving success in either long-term remission and rehabilitation or even full recovery


Exams and Tests

Tests should be done to help find the cause of weight loss, or see what damage the weight loss has caused. Many of these tests will be repeated over time to monitor the person.

These tests may include:

  • Albumin
  • Bone density test to check for thin bones (osteoporosis)
  • CBC
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG)
  • Electrolytes
  • Kidney function tests
  • Liver function tests
  • Total protein
  • Thyroid function tests
  • Urinalysis