Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by the triad of:

  • Abnormally low body weight
  • An intense fear of fatness
  • A distorted body image

Prevalence

At any given point in time, between 0.3 – 0.4% of young women and 0.1% of young men will suffer from anorexia nervosa.

Symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa

People with anorexia nervosa usually try to prevent weight gain or to induce weight loss by the following methods:

  • They try to control the number of calories they consume by imposing severe restrictions on the food they eat and the beverages they drink.
  • They may also vomit after eating and abuse and misuse laxatives, diuretics, and/or enemas to attain or maintain an “ideal” body weight.
  • Exercising excessively is another measure that people with anorexia nervosa resort to in attempts to regulate their body weight.

Diagnosing Anorexia Nervosa:

The SCOFF questionnaire can be administered by nonprofessionals to screen for the possible presence of an eating disorder. SCOFF stands for the following questions:

  • Do you make yourself SICK when you feel uncomfortably full?
  • Do you worry you have lost CONTROL over how much you eat?
  • Have you recently lost more than 14 lbs. in weight within the last three months?
  • Do you believe yourself to be FAT when others say you are too thin?
  • Would you say that FOOD dominates your life?

If a person answered yes to at least two of the above questions, this may indicate they have anorexia nervosa.

Body mass index (BMI) is used by the American Psychiatry Association Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Edition 5 (DSM-5) as an indicator of the level of severity of anorexia nervosa. The DSM-5 classifies the severity of anorexia nervosa as follows:

  • Mild: BMI of greater than 17
  • Moderate: BMI of 16–16.99
  • Severe: BMI of 15–15.99
  • Extreme: BMI of less than 15

Risk factors for Anorexia Nervosa:

Factors that can render an individual at increased risk of developing anorexia nervosa are:

  • Female gender
  • Young age
  • Stress
  • Being from a higher socioeconomic background
  • Exposure to cultural portrayals of beauty in the media and film industry

Anorexia Nervosa Complications:

The complications of anorexia nervosa include:

  • Abnormal heart rhythms – arrhythmias
  • Heart defects such as mitral valve prolapse – causes blood to leak back in the heart chambers instead of moving forward
  • An imbalance of electrolytes in the body such as the minerals sodium, potassium, and calcium
  • Osteoporosis – weak and brittle bones, which can increase the risk of bone fractures
  • Gastrointestinal disturbances such constipation, hemorrhoids, polyps
  • Absent periods in females

These complications can all increase the risk of death in people with this type of eating disorder. Indeed, anorexia nervosa has the highest rate of mortality of any psychiatric disorder.

Treatment of Anorexia Nervosa:

A person with anorexia nervosa may need hospitalization to address the physical health complications they can develop, and this may include feeding through a nasogastric tube.

  • Once physical health has been stabilized, the goal of treatment is to restore a healthy body weight.
  • Talking therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help to normalize eating patterns and behaviors to support weight gain. CBT can also help to change distorted beliefs and thoughts that prolong the restrictive eating.

Symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa & Warning Signs:

People with anorexia nervosa usually try to prevent weight gain or to induce weight loss by the following methods:

  • They try to control the number of calories they consume by imposing severe restrictions on the food they eat and the beverages they drink.
  • They may also vomit after eating and abuse and misuse laxatives, diuretics, and/or enemas to attain or maintain an “ideal” body weight.
  • Exercising excessively is another measure that people with anorexia nervosa resort to in attempts to regulate their body weight.

Diagnosing Anorexia Nervosa:

The SCOFF questionnaire can be administered by nonprofessionals to screen for the possible presence of an eating disorder. SCOFF stands for the following questions:

  • Do you make yourself SICK when you feel uncomfortably full?
  • Do you worry you have lost CONTROL over how much you eat?
  • Have you recently lost more than 14 lbs. in weight within the last three months?
  • Do you believe yourself to be FAT when others say you are too thin?
  • Would you say that FOOD dominates your life?

If a person answered yes to at least two of the above questions, this may indicate they have anorexia nervosa.

Body mass index (BMI) is used by the American Psychiatry Association Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Edition 5 (DSM-5) as an indicator of the level of severity of anorexia nervosa. The DSM-5 classifies the severity of anorexia nervosa as follows:

  • Mild: BMI of greater than 17
  • Moderate: BMI of 16–16.99
  • Severe: BMI of 15–15.99
  • Extreme: BMI of less than 15

Risk factors for Anorexia Nervosa:

Factors that can render an individual at increased risk of developing anorexia nervosa are:

  • Female gender
  • Young age
  • Stress
  • Being from a higher socioeconomic background
  • Exposure to cultural portrayals of beauty in the media and film industry

Anorexia Nervosa Complications:

The complications of anorexia nervosa include:

  • Abnormal heart rhythms – arrhythmias
  • Heart defects such as mitral valve prolapse – causes blood to leak back in the heart chambers instead of moving forward
  • An imbalance of electrolytes in the body such as the minerals sodium, potassium, and calcium
  • Osteoporosis – weak and brittle bones, which can increase the risk of bone fractures
  • Gastrointestinal disturbances such constipation, hemorrhoids, polyps
  • Absent periods in females

These complications can all increase the risk of death in people with this type of eating disorder. Indeed, anorexia nervosa has the highest rate of mortality of any psychiatric disorder.

Treatment of Anorexia Nervosa:

A person with anorexia nervosa may need hospitalization to address the physical health complications they can develop, and this may include feeding through a nasogastric tube.

  • Once physical health has been stabilized, the goal of treatment is to restore a healthy body weight.
  • Talking therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help to normalize eating patterns and behaviors to support weight gain. CBT can also help to change distorted beliefs and thoughts that prolong the restrictive eating.
Source MAYO CLINIC | WIKIPEDIA – Body Mass Index