Anorexia Nervosa

What you need to know

What is Anorexia Nervosa?

Anorexia Nervosa is n eating disorder characterized by an individual who is unable to their body weight within 15 percent of their Ideal Body Weight (IBW) (Duckworth & Freedman, 2013). Individuals who suffer from this disorder may have an intense fear of weight gain even if they are underweight resulting in using excessive dieting or exercise to lose weight. On top of fear of weight gain there may be a distorted view of body image along with denial of the seriousness of the illness (Duckworth & Freedman, 2013).

Possible Causes

The exact cause of Anorexia Nervosa is not known and there appears to be multiple factors involved. Social attitudes along with genes and hormones may play a role (Anorexia Nervosa, 2014). According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine (2014) some risk factors for Anorexia Nervosa are as follows:



  • Being more worried about, or paying more attention to, weight and shape
  • Having an anxiety disorder as a child
  • Having a negative self-image
  • Having eating problems during infancy or early childhood
  • Having certain social or cultural ideas about health and beauty
  • Trying to be perfect or overly focused on rules


While Anorexia Nervosa is most prevalent in females it is important to note that men can develop this eating disorder as well. This disorder most typically develops in the teenage and young adult years, but can develop at any time.

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Common Myths

Many people believe that media is to blame for eating disorders or that an eating disorder is just a passing fad. These are dangerous thought that do not take into consideration the seriousness of the disorder. According to Cynthia Bulik (2014) below are 9 myths regarding eating disorders:


  • You can tell by looking at someone that they have an eating disorder
  • Families are to blame
  • Mothers are to blame
  • Eating disorders are a choice
  • Eating disorders are the province of white upper-middle class teenage girls
  • Eating disorders are benign
  • Society alone is to blame
  • Genes are destiny
  • Eating disorders are for life


Addressing these myths will help to make sure any individual who is suffering from Anorexia Nervosa will receive the proper and timely treatment.

Treatment Options

There is not a specific way to treat Anorexia Nervosa. Many times a combination of treatments are the best option. However, it can be difficult to involve patients since they view themselves differently than what others see.

Choosing a Therapist

When deciding to pursue therapy it can be an overwhelming task to choose a therapist. There are many types of therapists and treatment styles to take into consideration. Asking questions and getting to know what treatments benefit you may help determine successful treatment. Before making an appointment inquire about the professionals theoretical orientation. If you are unsure what one would benefit you most it may be beneficial to have them explain what their treatment style means and how you would experience it (Cleantis, 2011). In addition, learning about the professional credentials is also important. Find out where they went to school, what their specialty is, have they worked with others with similar disorders, what is their training, are they licensed, and are there any infractions on their license (Cleantis, 2011). Once these questions are answered and you have chosen a therapist make sure it is someone you are comfortable with so you can build a good rapport (How to Choose a Psychologist, n.d.). Having a good relationship with your therapist is important to a successful treatment plan.

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