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Anorexia nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is a serious mental health condition characterized by a persistent restriction of food intake, leading to significantly low body weight, an intense fear of gaining weight, and a distorted body image. People with anorexia often see themselves as overweight, even if they are dangerously underweight. This disorder can lead to severe physical and psychological consequences and requires specialized treatment.



Significant Weight Loss: Individuals with anorexia typically lose a significant amount of weight, often below what is considered healthy for their age, height, and build.
Intense Fear of Gaining Weight: There is an overwhelming fear of gaining weight or becoming fat, even if the person is already underweight.
Distorted Body Image: A distorted perception of one's body is common. Even when emaciated, individuals with anorexia may still perceive themselves as overweight.
Preoccupation with Food and Dieting: There is an obsessive focus on food, calories, and dieting. This may include strict rules about what can be eaten and when.
Excessive Exercise: Many individuals with anorexia engage in excessive exercise routines as a way to burn calories and control their weight.
Denial of the Severity of Low Body Weight: Even when severely underweight, individuals with anorexia may deny the seriousness of their condition.
Physical Symptoms: These may include extreme thinness, fatigue, dizziness, hair loss, brittle nails, dry skin, and intolerance to cold.
Menstrual Irregularities or Amenorrhea: In females, anorexia can lead to the cessation of menstrual periods.
Social Withdrawal: People with anorexia may withdraw from social activities that involve food, and they may avoid situations where their body shape or weight may be noticed or commented on.
Mood Changes: Depression, irritability, and anxiety are common in individuals with anorexia.


The exact cause of anorexia nervosa is not fully understood, but it is likely to be a complex interplay of genetic, environmental, psychological, and sociocultural factors. Some potential contributing factors include:
Genetic Predisposition: There appears to be a genetic component, as anorexia can run in families.
Psychological Factors: These may include low self-esteem, perfectionism, and a tendency toward anxiety or depression.
Sociocultural Influences: Cultural pressures emphasizing thinness and beauty standards, especially in industries like fashion and entertainment, can contribute to the development of anorexia.
Life Transitions or Stressors: Major life events, such as going away to college or experiencing a traumatic event, can trigger the onset of anorexia.
Dieting and Weight Concerns: Chronic dieting and an emphasis on thinness can lead to the development of anorexia.


Diagnosing anorexia involves a comprehensive assessment by a healthcare professional, which may include:
Physical Examination: This is done to assess overall health, including weight, vital signs, and any physical complications due to malnutrition.
Mental Health Evaluation: A thorough evaluation of psychological and emotional well-being is conducted to assess symptoms, thoughts, and feelings.
Dietary History: A detailed history of eating habits, dietary restrictions, and exercise patterns is obtained.
Diagnostic Criteria: The diagnosis of anorexia nervosa is based on specific criteria outlined in diagnostic manuals such as the DSM-5.


Treatment for anorexia nervosa typically involves a multidisciplinary approach and may include:
Nutritional Rehabilitation: This involves supervised refeeding and a structured meal plan to restore healthy weight and address nutritional deficiencies.
Psychotherapy: Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Family-Based Treatment (FBT), and other forms of psychotherapy are often used to address distorted thinking patterns and behaviours related to food and body image.
Medical Monitoring: Regular medical check-ups are crucial to monitor physical health and address any complications.
Medication: In some cases, medication may be prescribed to address co-occurring conditions like depression or anxiety.
Individualized Care: Treatment plans are tailored to the specific needs of the individual and may involve input from a team of healthcare professionals, including therapists, dietitians, and physicians.
Support Groups and Aftercare: Support groups can provide ongoing encouragement and a sense of community for individuals in recovery.
It's important to note that early intervention and comprehensive treatment are crucial for recovery from anorexia nervosa. The support of a trained healthcare team, along with the support of loved ones, can make a significant difference in the recovery process.

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