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  Anorexia Nervosa    

Anorexia Nervosa is characterized primarily by self-starvation, excessive weight loss and an intense fear of gaining weight.


The primary symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa are:



  • Refusal to maintain body weight at or above a minimally normal weight for height and age (e.g., weight loss leading to maintenance of body weight less than 85% of that expected; or failure to make expected weight gain during period of growth, leading to body weight less than 85% of that expected).




  • Intense fear of weight gain or being “fat” even though underweight.




  • Disturbance in the way in which one’s body weight or shape is experienced, undue influence of body weight or shape on self-evaluation, or denial of the seriousness of the current low body weight.




  • In postmenarcheal females, amenorrhea, i.e., the absence of at least three consecutive menstrual cycles. (A woman is considered to have amenorrhea if her periods occur only following hormone, e.g., estrogen, administration.)



There are two subtypes of Anorexia Nervosa:


  • Restricting Type:  during the current episode of Anorexia Nervosa, the person has not regularly engaged in binge eating or purging behavior (i.e., self-induced vomiting or the misuse of laxatives, diuretics, or enemas).




  • Binge-Eating/Purging Type:  during the current episode of Anorexia Nervosa, the person has regularly engaged in binge eating or purging behavior (i.e., self-induced vomiting or the misuse of laxatives, diuretics, or enemas).


The more specific the information you offer, the better the person you’re speaking with will understand and be able to help. Answer the following questions and include the answers you are comfortable revealing:


  • When did you begin having different thoughts regarding food, weight, or exercise? What were the thoughts?
  • When did the different behaviors start? What was the behavior and did you hope to accomplish something specific (lose weight, gain control of something, get someone’s attention)?
  • Have you noticed any physical health effects (fatigue, loss of hair, digestive problems, loss of menstrual cycle, heart palpitations, etc.)? Or any emotional effects?
  • How are you currently feeling physically? Emotionally? Do you feel ready to stop the disordered eating behaviors?
  • How can the people in your life best support you? Do you want them to monitor your behavior?
  • Do you want them to ask you how you are doing with your recovery or would you rather tell them?

Source: National Eating Disorders Association


Therapy for Anorexia


Therapy is crucial to treating anorexia and bulimia. There are many ways a therapist can work with you, including addressing any feelings of shame and isolation caused by your eating disorder. Different therapists have different methods, so it is important to discuss with a therapist your goals in working towards recovery.


The most common therapy for eating disorders is cognitive-behavioral therapy. This targets the unhealthy eating behaviors of anorexia and bulimia and the unrealistic, negative thoughts that fuel them. One of the main goals is for you to become more self-aware of how you use food to deal with emotions. The therapist will help you recognize your emotional triggers and learn how to avoid or combat them. Cognitive-behavioral therapy for eating disorders also involves education about nutrition, healthy weight management, and relaxation techniques.

Am I Anorexic?
  • Do you feel fat even though people tell you you’re not?
  • Are you terrified of gaining weight?
  • Do you lie about how much you eat or hide your eating habits from others?
  • Are your friends or family concerned about your weight loss, eating habits, or appearance?
  • Do you diet, compulsively exercise, or purge when you’re feeling overwhelmed or bad about yourself?
  • Do you feel powerful or in control when you go without food, over-exercise, or purge?
  • Do you base your self-worth on your weight or body size?

Healthy Tips

"I am more powerful than my eating disorder"

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