Health A-Z

Anorexia nervosa

Clinical Definition

Anorexia nervosa is a psychological eating disorder in which a person has an intense fear of gaining weight and limits calories to the point of near starvation to attain a below-normal body weight.

In Our Own Words

Individuals with anorexia nervosa suffer from a distorted body image, typically coupled with feelings of inadequacy and anxiety. To maintain their below-normal body weight, individuals with the disorder severely restrict their eating behavior.

Most prevalent in women, anorexia nervosa often starts during adolescence. In addition to body dysmorphia, anorexics tend to be ocially awkward, depressed and moody.

Untreated, anorexia nervosa can lead to death and other serious health complications, including gastrointestinal, cardiovasular and endocrine disorders and osteoporosis.

Symptoms and Side Effects

  • Below-normal body weight, emaciation
  • Fear of gaining weight or being fat
  • Amenorrhea (i.e., absence of menstruation)
  • Brittle hair or hair loss
  • Symptoms related to vomiting (if the purging type)
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