Anorexia Nervosa

A Psychological Disorder

Defining Psychological Disorders

A psychological disorder is classified by the DSM as a significant disturbance in one's cognitive, emotion regulation, or behavior that shows a disfunction in one's psychological, biological or developmental processes underlying mental functioning. A psychological disorder is also characterized by significant stress in one's social, occupational, or other other aspects of one's life. A mental disorder is not an expectable or culturally approved response to a stressor.

The major classifications

Eating disorder: abnormal eating that negatively affects a person's physical or mental health.

Schizophrenia: abnormal social behavior and failure to recognize what is real.

Anxiety disorder: continual fear or uneasiness of or in response to an imagined danger.

Mood disorder: a disturbance in a person's mood to the extent of distress and lesser functioning.

Dissociative disorder: separation of feelings, memories or emotions.

Somatic symptom disorder: physical symptoms with no physical cause.

Personality disorder: disruptive patterns of personality traits that negatively impact one's life.

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia Nervosa, commonly known as anorexia, falls under the psychological disorder classification as an eating disorder.

Anorexia Description

Anorexia is characterized by one's refusal to maintain a healthy body weight and the intense fear of gaining weight or being overweight. A person with anorexia has an overly distorted body image. They see themselves as fat or overweight, while they are infact maintaining a body weight less than 85% of a healthy weight for their age and height. A person with anorexia is often in denial of the severity of their low body weight, and does not want to admit or notice there is a problem.


  • self-esteem related to body image
  • severely low body weight and resistance to maintain a healthy weight
  • inability to notice and/or accept the severity of the situation
  • intense fear of weight gain
  • obsession with weight and food
  • severe measures taken to prevent weight gain and/or induce weight loss


Causes of anorexia and other eating disorders is usually linked to a number of factors, but the specific cause is unknown. There are social, environmental and psychological that can contribute to the development of an eating disorder. The causes of anorexia can have biological and genetic components or societal/peer pressure related factors.

Facts and Data

  • the majority of anorexics are young women.
  • most commonly diagnosed in middle to upper-class caucasians.
  • anorexia is the third most common long-term illness among teens
  • 10-15% of sufferers are male
  • 95% of people with an eating disorder are between the ages of 12-26 years old
  • Anorexia is the most common cause of death in women ages 15-24 years old