A patient with anorexia nervosa, often just called "anorexia" (although the meaning is different), has a distorted body image and an exaggerated fear of becoming overweight or obese - so a deliberate effort is made to lose
This Medical News Today (MNT) article provides essential information on anorexia nervosa, describing what it is and what causes it, its symptoms, how it is diagnosed, possible treatment options, and complications.
What is anorexia nervosa?
Anorexia should not be confused with anorexia nervosa.
- Anorexia is a general loss of appetite, or a loss of interest in food.
- Anorexia nervosa is a serious mental illness. Patients have not "lost" interest in food, they have intentionally restricted their food intake because of an irrational fear of being or becoming fat.
However, lay people often use the term "anorexia" when referring to the serious psychological disorder.
According to the National Library of Medicine, anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that makes the patient lose more weight than is considered healthy for his or her height and age.
A person with anorexia disorder may be underweight, but still has an intense fear of putting on weight. They may do too much exercise, diet, use laxatives and other methods to get leaner.
Anorexia nervosa typically begins during a person's teenage years or early adulthood. It is the third most common chronic illness among teenagers.
ANAD (National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders) says that between 85% to 90% of all patients with anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa are female.
Many studies have found that the risk of suicide among patients with anorexia nervosa is high. A study published in PLoS ONE found that among eating disorders, anorexia nervosa has the highest rates of completed suicides,
but not attempted suicides. However, S. Coren and P. L. Hewitt wrote in the American Journal of Public Health that "(our) findings suggest that the suicide rate is not elevated among individuals currently suffering from anorexia nervosa."
James Lock, MD, PhD, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University Medical School says that anorexia nervosa kills approximately 1 in every 10 patients (all causes, not just suicide).