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- Anorexia nervosa facts
- What is anorexia nervosa?
- Who is at risk for anorexia nervosa?
- What causes anorexia nervosa?
- How is anorexia nervosa diagnosed?
- What are anorexia symptoms and signs (psychological and behavioral)?
- What are anorexia symptoms, signs, and complications (physical)?
- What is the treatment for anorexia nervosa?
- What is the prognosis (outcome) of anorexia nervosa?
- How can anorexia nervosa be prevented?
- The future of anorexia nervosa
- Where can a person get help for anorexia nervosa?
Quick GuideEating Disorders: Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge Eating
What is anorexia nervosa?
Anorexia nervosa, commonly referred to simply as anorexia, is one type of eating disorder. 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?
A majority 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. Although the disorder has received a lot of media attention, it is an uncommon condition. Caucasians are more often affected than people of other racial backgrounds, and anorexia is more common in middle and upper socioeconomic groups.
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.