Anorexia Nervosa (cont.)

Medical Author:
Medical Editor:
Medical Editor:

What is anorexia nervosa?

Anorexia nervosa, commonly referred to simply as anorexia, is one type of eating disorder. More importantly, it is also a psychological disorder. Anorexia is a condition that goes beyond concern about obesity or out-of-control dieting. A person with anorexia often initially begins dieting to lose weight. Over time, the weight loss becomes a sign of mastery and control. The drive to become thinner is actually secondary to concerns about control and/or fears relating to one's body. The individual continues the ongoing cycle of restrictive eating, often accompanied by other behaviors such as excessive exercising or the overuse of diet pills to induce loss of appetite, and/or diuretics, laxatives, or enemas in order to reduce body weight, often to a point close to starvation in order to feel a sense of control over his or her body. This cycle becomes an obsession and, in this way, is similar to an addiction.

Who is at risk for anorexia nervosa?

Approximately 95% of those affected by anorexia are female, most often teenage girls, but males can develop the disorder as well. While anorexia typically begins to manifest itself during early adolescence, it is also seen in young children and adults. In the U.S. and other countries with high economic status, it is estimated that about one out of every 100 adolescent girls has the disorder. Caucasians are more often affected than people of other racial backgrounds, and anorexia is more common in middle and upper socioeconomic groups. According to the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), other statistics about this disorder include the fact that an estimated 0.5%-3.7% of women will suffer from this disorder at some point in their lives. About 0.3% of men are thought to develop anorexia in their lifetimes.

Many experts consider people for whom thinness is especially desirable, or a professional requirement (such as athletes in sports like gymnastics, wrestling and jockeying, as well as models, dancers, and actors), to be at risk for eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa. Health care professionals are usually encouraged to present the facts about the dangers of anorexia through education of their patients and of the general public as a means of preventing this and other eating disorders.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/8/2012

Patient Comments

Viewers share their comments

Anorexia Nervosa - Treatments Question: What treatment has been effective for your anorexia?
Anorexia - Share Your Experience Question: Please share your experience with anorexia nervosa.
Anorexia - Psychological Symptoms Question: What psychological or behavioral symptoms did you experience with anorexia nervosa?
Anorexia - Physical Symptoms Question: Describe the physical symptoms you experienced with anorexia nervosa.
Anorexia - Prognosis Question: Did you, a friend, or relative have anorexia? Please share the prognosis or outcome.
Anorexia - Prevention Question: Please share suggestions for preventing anorexia nervosa.

STAY INFORMED

Get the Latest health and medical information delivered direct to your inbox!