What is Anorexia?

Anorexia is a type of eating disorder in which an individual restricts their food intake and attempts to maintain a drastically low body weight. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, anorexia is an “emotional disorder that involves extreme difficulties with body image, an intense fear of gaining weight, and extreme food restriction”.

Signs and Symptoms of Anorexia

Common signs and symptoms of anorexia include:

  • Extremely restricted eating
  • Skipping meals or taking small portions
  • Extremely low body weight
  • Anxiety or distress around food and eating
  • Social isolation during mealtimes
  • Weighing food or counting calories
  • Obsession with food, weight, or body shape
  • Distorted body image
  • Excessive exercise

In addition to the physical signs and symptoms of anorexia, individuals with anorexia may suffer from emotional and psychological distress, such as depression, anxiety, guilt, and low self-esteem.

Treating Anorexia

The treatment for anorexia depends on the individual and the severity of the disorder. Generally, a combination of psychotherapy, nutrition education, and medical monitoring is necessary to address physical, psychological, and emotional issues related to anorexia.

Psychotherapy can help individuals to understand and address underlying issues, such as low self-esteem, body image issues, and distorted thinking. Nutrition education can help individuals to learn how to develop healthy eating patterns and establish a normal weight range. Medical monitoring may involve frequent weigh-ins, laboratory tests, and monitoring vital signs in order to establish the individual is not at risk of physical complications from anorexia.