Anorexia Nervosa

  • Medical Author:
    Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD

    Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Quick GuideEating Disorders: Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge Eating

Eating Disorders: Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge Eating

How can anorexia nervosa be prevented?

While educating the public about the important health benefits of appropriate nutrition is generally beneficial, it has been found to be less specifically helpful in the prevention of eating disorders and other body image problems. More effective approaches are thought to be the addition of education about the bias of media images toward excessive thinness as desirable. Helping people internalize a self-image and health behaviors that are inconsistent with those of eating disordered individuals have also found to be effective prevention methods for anorexia.

The future of anorexia nervosa

Given the complexity of anorexia and how many people with this illness continue to suffer from it despite receiving treatment, researchers are seeking to better understand how this illness develops and how it is most effectively treated. For example, as individuals with anorexia tend to have low levels of cortisol in their blood, and behaviors like dieting and exercise tend to increase cortisol levels, giving anorexia sufferers cortisol supplements is being explored with some success. The best approaches for psychotherapy in adults with anorexia, the possible benefit of 12-step programs in treatment, the role of genetics in the development of this disorder, and the effectiveness of various medications in treating anorexia are other areas of continued need for research.

Where can a person get help for anorexia nervosa?

Academy for Eating Disorders

American Psychiatric Association
1000 Wilson Blvd, Suite 1825
Arlington, VA 22209

American Psychological Association
750 First Street, N.E.
Washington, D.C. 20002

National Eating Disorders Association
603 Stewart Street, Suite 803
Seattle, WA 98101

National Institute of Mental Health, NIH, HHS

National Institute of Health
9000 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, MD 20892

National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders

Renfrew Center

T.H.E. (Treatment, Healing, Education) Center for Disordered Eating
297 Haywood Street
Asheville, NC 28801

Medically reviewed by Marina Katz, MD; American Board of Psychiatry & Neurology


Abbate-Daga, G., Piero, A., Rigardetto, R., Gandione, M., Gramaglia, C., Fassino, S. "Clinical, Psychological and Personality Features Related to Age of Onset of Anorexia Nervosa." Psychopathology 40 (2007): 261-268.

American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association, 2013.

American Psychiatric Association. "Practice Guideline for Treatment of Patients With Eating Disorders, Third Edition." American Journal of Psychiatry May 2006.

Bergh, C., Brodin, U., Lindberg, G., Sodersten, P. Randomized Controlled Trial of a Treatment for Anorexia and Bulimia Nervosa. National Academy of Sciences 2009.

Brown, J.M., P.S. Mehler, and R.H. Harris. "Medical Complications Occurring in Adolescents With Anorexia Nervosa." Western Journal of Medicine 172.3 Mar. 2000: 189-193.

Bulik, Cynthia M. "Suicide Attempts in Anorexia Nervosa." Psychosomatic Medicine 70 (2008): 378-383.

Dunican, K.C. "The Role of Olanzapine in the Treatment of Anorexia Nervosa." The Annals of Pharmacotherapy 41.1 (2007): 111-115.

Grice, D.E., Halmi, K.A., Fichter, M.M., Strober, M., Woodside, D.B., Treasure, J.T., Kaplan, A.S., Magistretti, P.J., Goldman, D., Bulik, C.M., Kaye, W.H., Berrettini, W.H. "Evidence for a Susceptibility Gene for Anorexia Nervosa on Chromosome 1." Am J Hum Genet 70.3 Mar. 2002: 787-92.

Hudson, J.I., E. Hiripi, H.G. Pope Jr., and R.C. Kessler. "The Prevalence and Correlates of Eating Disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication." Biological Psychiatry 61.3 Feb. 2007: 348-358.

Johnson, J.G., Cohen, P., Kasen, S., Brook, J.S. "Childhood Adversities Associated With Risk for Eating Disorders or Weight Problems During Adolescence or Early Disorders." American Journal of Psychiatry 159 Mar. 2002: 394-400.

Keel, P.K., Haedt, A. "Evidence-Based Psychosocial Treatments for Eating Problems and Eating Disorders." Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology 37.1 Jan. 2008: 39-61.

Le Grange, D. "The Maudsley Family-Based Treatment for Adolescent Anorexia Nervosa." World Psychiatry 4.3 Oct. 2005: 142-146.

Misra, M., Aggarwal, A., Miller, K.K., Almazan, B.S., Worley, M., Soyka, L.A., Herzog, D.B., Klibanski, A. "Effects of Anorexia Nervosa on Clinical, Hematologic, Biochemical and Bone Density Parameters in Community-Dwelling Adolescent Girls." Pediatrics 114.6 Dec. 2004: 1574-1583.

Morgan, J.F., Reid, F., Lacey, J.H. "The SCOFF Questionnaire: Assessment of a New Screening Tool for Eating Disorders." British Medical Journal 319 (1999):1467–1468.

Nicholls, D.E., Viner, R.M. "Childhood Risk Factors for Lifetime Anorexia Nervosa by Age 30 Years in a National Birth Cohort." Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 48.8 Aug. 2009: 791-799.

O'Dea, J.A., and Z. Yager. "Prevention programs for body image and eating disorders on university campuses: a review of large, controlled interventions." Health Promotion International 23.2 Feb. 2008: 173-189.

Papadopoulos, F.C., Ekborn, A., Brandt, L., Ekselius, L. "Excess Mortality, Causes of Death and Prognostic Factors in Anorexia Nervosa." The British Journal of Psychiatry 194 (2009): 10-17.

Pike, K.M., Hilbert, A., Wilfley, D.E., Fairburn, F.A., et al. "Toward an Understanding of Risk Factors for Anorexia Nervosa: A Case-Control Study." Psychology and Medicine 38.10 Oct. 2008: 1443-1453.

Raevuori, A., A. Keski-Rahkonen, H.W. Hoek, et al. "Lifetime Anorexia Nervosa in Young Men in the Community: Five Cases and Their Co-twins." International Journal of Eating Disorders 41.5 July 2008: 458-463.

Rigaud, D., I. Tallonneau, and B. Vergès. "Hypercholesterolaemia in Anorexia: Frequency and Changes During Refeeding." Diabetes Metabolism 35.1 Feb. 2009: 57-63.

Steinhausen, H.C. "The Outcome of Anorexia Nervosa in the 20th Century." American Journal of Psychiatry 159 Aug. 2002: 1284-1293.

U.S. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), Anorexia nervosa, 2009. <>.

Vastag, Brian. "What's the Connection? No Easy Answers for People With Eating Disorders and Drug Abuse." JAMA 285 (2001): 1006-1007.

Wade, T.D., Bulik, C.M., Neale, M., Kendler, K.S. "Anorexia Nervosa and Major Depression: Shared Genetic and Environmental Risk Factors." American Journal of Psychiatry 157 Mar. 2000: 469-471.

Wheatland, R. "Alternative Treatment Considerations in Anorexia Nervosa." Medical Hypotheses 59.6 Nov. 2002: 710-715.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/8/2016

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Newsletters

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

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors