Read about anorexia nervosa medical facts: what is the definition of anorexia nervosa, medical treatment & how to treat anorexia nervosa, clinical features, and related anorexia nervosa diseases.

Definition: What is "Anorexia nervosa"?


Anorexia nervosa is a psychiatric disorder that describes an eating disorder, which is characterized by body image distortion & low body weight due to an obsessive fear of becoming fat or gaining weight. People with anorexia nervosa usually control their body weight by voluntary vomiting, purging, starving, extreme exercise & other weight control measures, such as taking diuretic drugs & diet pills. It usually affects adolescent females & only 10% of anorexia nervosa patients are male. Anorexia nervosa is an extremely complex disorder, involving neurobiological, sociological & psychological components.

Treatment: How to Treat "Anorexia nervosa"?

Since Anorexia nervosa can be fatal, the first line of treatment is weight gain. In serious cases of Anorexia nervosa, patients can be forced to hospital treatment. However, most cases of Anorexia nervosa can be treated as outpatients with treatments assigned by a physician, a psychiatrist & other mental health professionals.

Clinical Features

There are physical, emotional, psychological, behavioral, interpersonal & social features present in those with anorexia nervosa. Physical symptoms of anorexia nervosa include changes in brain function, muscle weakness, heart failure, immune dysfunction, low phosphate levels & disturbed electrolyte balance, which may all lead to death. Individuals who develop anorexia nervosa before adolescence could suffer from stunted growth & low levels of hormones. Up to 50% of anorexia nervosa patients develop osteoporosis. Anorexia nervosa could cause extreme weight loss, stunted growth, endocrine disorder, decreased libido in both males & females, impotence in males, reduced metabolism, anemia, hypotension, hair thinning & zinc deficiency. Some patients could also develop tooth decay & suffer from dry skin, constipation, chapped lips, creaking bones, sunken eyes, pallid complexion, reduced immune system function, bitter fingernails & headaches. For those with extreme weight loss, anorexia nervosa could cause nerve deterioration, which could result in difficulty to move the feet. Psychological effects of Anorexia nervosa include perfectionism, distorted body imaged, OCD, obsessive thoughts about weight, self-evaluation, poor insight & refusal to accept that the patient's weight is dangerously low. Emotional effects of Anorexia nervosa include self-efficacy, extreme fear of obesity, mood swings & clinical depression. Patients with Anorexia nervosa could develop behavioral changes, such as fainting, excessive exercise, self-harm, suicidal attempts, substance abuse & aggressiveness to eating food.

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