Anorexia nervosa

By Caitlyn McDevitt Block: 2

What it is

Anorexia: an emotional disorder characterized by an obsessive desire to lose weight by refusing to eat. A patient with Anorexia has a distorted body image and an exaggerated fear of becoming obese. They may do too much exercise, diet, use laxatives and other methods to get leaner. Anorexia tends to begin during a person's teenage years or early adulthood (third most common chronic illness among teenagers). People are more likely to develop anorexia if they suffer from anxiety, depression, or have low self esteem. Signs and symptoms of anorexia: severe weight loss, fatigue, low blood pressure, low body temperature, bloated stomach, infertility, insomnia, loss of bone density, brittle nails, lanugo, and bad breath.

Harmful effects on the body and emotional effects

Harmful effects

Infertility, death, kidney problems, weak bones, and cardiovascular problems.

Emotional effects

Clinical depression, distorted body images, and mood swings

Getting help

Treatment goals

  • Restoring the patient's body weight to a healthy level.
  • Treating emotional problems, including low self-esteem.
  • Addressing distorted thinking.
  • Helping the patient develop behavioral changes that will persist over the long term.

Psychotherapy, medication, nutrition counseling, and hospitalization

How others can help

Get them to a professional that can best help them. Don't tell them that they are doing it for attention and are not actually sick.


24 million people suffer from eating disorders

  • Males make up about 10 to 15 percent of those who suffer from anorexia.
  • Teens and young adults between the ages of 12 and 26 make up 95 percent of those who have eating disorders