Anorexia Nervosa

Eating Disorder

What is Anorexia Nervosa?

Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder in which people fail to maintain body weights that are normal for their age and height and have fears of becoming fat, distorted body images, and amenorrhea (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2014, p. 339).

Possiable Causes of Anorexia Nervosa?

~Culture can tend to be a cause in Anorexia Nervosa. Caucasians are more likely than African Americans to develop the disorder than Africa Americans and Hispanics.

~Extreme dieting changes how the brain and metabolism work which causes stress on the body which in turn is more likely to create an eating disorder.

~Genetics play a big role in Anorexia Nervosa. If you are from a family that has known eating disorders, obesity, or mood disorders you are more likely to develop the disorder.

~A combination of certain personality traits such as low self esteem, low confidence, and perfectionism.

~Stressful life events such as divorce, moving, death of a loved one can trigger Anorexia Nervosa.

(Nilsson, K., Abrahamsson, E., Torbiornsson, A., & Hägglöf, B.,2007).

Treatment Options

~Psychotherapy: This can be a hard treatment method for any therapist because they have to win the trust of the individual with the disorder. While winning the trust can be difficult because the individual see's their body image as acceptable. Trust is hard to win when hospitalization takes place, and when forced feedings are necessary. Many with this disorder do not seek treatment by themselves. They are often referred to the therapist while receiving treatment in the hospital. While the individual is in the hospital, the therapist tries to help the client face and solve the psychological issues that are causing one to starve themselves. Psychotherapy particularly helps adolescents however, there are many setbacks (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2014, p. 357).

~Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy: This is the most researched method of treatment. In this treatment the client is confronted about the thinness and there are rewards that are contingent on the clients weight gain. Many of these rewards consist of shopping outside of the hospital and receiving family visits. The client is also taught relaxation techniques as the client might become extremely anxious about food. This type of treatment leads to weight gain and very low percentages of people drop out of this therapy (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2014, p.357).

~In Family Therapy: Is a therapy session with the individual who has the eating disorder and then the family that is treated as a unit. The best model of this therapy is the Maudsley model. This intervention consists of 10 to 20 sessions over 6 to 12 months. The parents are coached to take control of their child's eating and weight. As therapy progresses the child's autonomy is linked explicitly to the resolution of the eating disorder (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2014, p. 357).

~Nutritional Counseling: This treatment is done with a registered dietician and it will help the client learn healthy eating habits and a good understanding nutrition(Pawlowski, C. P., & DeAngelo, L. P., 2014) .

Myths: Anorexia Nervosa

Myth #1: She'll grow out of it!

Fact: This is untrue, the longer the girl or individual has the disorder the harder it is to recover. There is evidence that the brain adapts to prolonged starvation; the longer it persists the more difficult it is to resist the behavior (Pawlowski, C. P., & DeAngelo, L. P., 2014).

Myth #2: Individuals with anorexia are just trying to get attention!

Fact: Anorexia is not a play for attention, it's a life-threatening disorder in which girls and some boys have a severely distorted body image and are driven to starve themselves (Pawlowski, C. P., & DeAngelo, L. P., 2014).

Myth # 3: You cannot die from anorexia if you exercise to keep your heart and body strong.

Fact: Anorexia is life-threatening even for those who exercise obsessively. Malnutrition can create a host of serious medical conditions; at worst, it can be fatal, causing the heart to shut down without notice, even in a young woman who does not appear to be dangerously thin (Pawlowski, C. P., & DeAngelo, L. P., 2014).

Theraphy Treatment Credentials

The best type of therapy for someone with Anorexia Nervosa would be a residential facility and their therapists. This is because it will eliminate external interferences and any negative influences that led to the eating disorder. It also ensures continual and permanent emotional support, either from the medical team, therapists or from fellow sufferers. Make sure the facility works closely with family members and friends also.


Nilsson, K., Abrahamsson, E., Torbiornsson, A., & Hägglöf, B. (2007). Causes of adolescent onset anorexia nervosa: patient perspectives. Eating Disorders, 15(2), 125-133 9p.

Nolen-Hoeksema, S. (2014). Abnormal Psychology (6th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill

Pawlowski, C. P., & DeAngelo, L. P. (2014). Anorexia nervosa. Magill’S Medical Guide (Online Edition),