Anorexia Nervosa

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What is anorexia nervosa?

Anorexia nervosa is when people starve themselves. It is stated that these people are "subsisting on little or no food for very long periods of time, yet they remain convinced that they need to lose more weight" (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2014).

What causes anorexia nervosa?

The exact cause of anorexia nervosa is unknown. It is suspected that like with many diseases, "it's probably a combination of biological, psychological and environmental factors" (Anorexia nervosa causes, 2014). The biological factor includes the "genetic changes that make some people more vulnerable to developing anorexia" (Anorexia nervosa causes, 2014). It is stated that it is psychological because "some emotional characteristics may contribute to anorexia" (Anorexia nervosa causes, 2014). The environmental factor is due to the "modern Western culture emphasizes thinness" (Anorexia nervosa causes, 2014).
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How is anorexia nervosa treated?

"When you have anorexia, you may need several types of treatment. If your life is in immediate danger, you may need treatment in a hospital emergency room for such issues as a heart rhythm disturbance, dehydration, electrolyte imbalances or psychiatric problems" (Anorexia nervosa treatment and drugs, 2014). There are several types of treatments for anorexia nervosa including: medical care, restoring healthy weight, psychotherapy, medication and hospitalization. Treatment depends on the person. It is best to talk to your health care provider to discuss appropriate treatment options.

Top 10 myths about anorexia nervosa

1. “Individuals with anorexia are just trying to get attention” (Shepphird, 2009).

This is a myth because people do not want attention, sometimes it is a way for the person to cope with something painful.

2. Anorexia is about vanity. If a person with anorexia says, ‘I feel fat,’ it is just to get compliments” (Shepphird, 2009).

The fact is that people with anorexia nervosa actually have a distorted body image of themselves.

3. "People choose to have anorexia" (Shepphird, 2009).

This is a serious psychiatric illness that is not chosen.

4. "Eating disorders are primarily about food and weight" (Shepphird, 2009).

It is not a food problem, but problems with behaviors including "food restriction, fasting and purging" which are "symptoms of underlying problems" (Shepphird, 2009).

5. "Anorexia is a rich, young, white girls' problem" (Shepphird, 2009).

Research has shown that "a person with anorexia may be from any racial, ethnic, or economic background. Anorexia does not discriminate, it affects young and old, female and male" (Shepphird, 2009).

6. "People with anorexia do not engage in binge eating" (Shepphird, 2009).

In reality, people with anorexia do sometimes binge eat and then purge.

7. “A person cannot have anorexia if they eat three meals a day” (Shepphird, 2009).

Anorexia is not only just fast it also includes limiting "the types of food eaten or the amount of food eaten"

8. “You cannot die from anorexia if you exercise to keep your heart and body strong” (Shepphird, 2009).

This is incorrect because there are many medical complications linked to starvation and malnutrition.

9. "Anorexia is all about control" (Shepphird, 2009).

"A person with anorexia may feel that he or she has been unable to effect change in certain aspects of life or may feel unable to control the unfolding of certain life events” (Shepphird, 2009).

10. "Anorexia is just a phase" (Shepphird, 2009).

It is never a phase and is a very serious disorder that needs a lot of attention.

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Finding the right therapist

According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders "of those who receive help for eating disorders, only 35 percent get that help at a specialized facility" (Creds & Reqs needed to treat eating disorders, 2014). Although treatment facilities are not for everyone, for those who do attend one "the right kind of health care provider is vital to a person’s success in keeping an eating disorder under control" (Creds & Reqs needed to treat eating disorders, 2014). It is very important to find a therapist that treats both mind and body. It is also important to check the credentials of the facility and therapist. The most affective way to ensure a proper therapist is to ask for proof. Also, "enrolling in care with a licensed facility is also another effective way to ensure that the proper care will be provided" (Creds & Reqs needed to treat eating disorders, 2014). These facilities "carefully screen their employees, and they often have stringent requirements regarding education and certifications" (Creds & Reqs needed to treat eating disorders, 2014). This ensures the appropriate treatment needed.


Nolen-Hoeksema, S. (2014). Abnormal psychology (Sixth ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.

Anorexia nervosa causes. (2014). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from

Anorexia nervosa treatment and drugs. (2014). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from

Shepphird, Sari. (2009, February 9). Top 10 myths about anorexia. Encyclopedia britannica blog. Retrieved from

Creds & Reqs needed to treat eating disorders. (2014). Futures Palm Beach. Retrieved from