ANOREXIA NERVOSA

Anorexia Nervosa is a potentially life threatening mental illness,
characterised by low body weight, body image distortion
and fear of weight gain, causing food restriction.

Signs of Anorexia Nervosa

Physical:

  • Rapid weight loss or frequent weight changes
  • Loss or disturbance of menstruation in girls and women and decreased libido in men
  • Impaired fertility in females
  • Fainting or dizziness
  • Feeling cold most of the time, even in warm weather (caused by poor circulation)
  • Feeling bloated, constipated, or the development of intolerances to food
  • Feeling tired and not sleeping well
  • Lethargy and low energy
  • Facial changes (e.g. looking pale, sunken eyes)
  • Fine downy hair appearing on face and body
  • Hair loss/thinning
  • Decreased growth rate including bones, causing Osteroporosis

Psychological:

  • Preoccupation with eating, food, body shape and weight
  • Feeling anxious and/or irritable around meal times
  • Anxiety and Depression
  • Intense fear weight gain
  • Unable to maintain a normal body weight for age and height
  • Reduced thinking capacity & difficulty concentrating
  • ‘Black and white’ thinking (e.g. rigid thoughts about food being ‘good’ or ‘bad’)
  • Distorted body image (e.g. seeing themselves as overweight when they are underweight)
  • Extreme body image dissatisfaction, low self esteem and perfectionism
  • Increased sensitivity to comments relating to food, weight, body shape, exercise

Behavioural:

  • Dieting behaviour such as fasting, counting calories, avoiding food groups
  • Misuse of laxatives, appetite suppressants, diuretics & enemas
  • Obsessive behaviours relating to body shape & weight such as repeated weighing, pinching waist
  • Evidence of binge eating
  • Eating in private, avoiding meals with others & anti-social behaviour
  • Compulsive or excessive exercising
  • Radical changes in food preferences & Secrecy around eating
  • Obsessive rituals around food prep and eating
  • Preoccupation with preparing food for others, recipes and nutrition
  • Self harm, substance abuse or suicide attempts

IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW IS SHOWING THESE SIGNS,
PLEASE SEEK HELP & SUPPORT USING THE RESOURCES AVAILABLE ON THIS SITE

SUB-TYPES OF ANOREXIA NERVOSA

Restricting type:
The most common type of Anorexia Nervosa whereby a person severely restricts their food intake.  Restriction may take many forms such as:

  • Maintaining very low calorie count
  • Restricting types of food eaten
  • Eating only one meal a day
  • Follow obsessive and rigid rules (e.g. only eating food of one colour or starting with a certain letter)

Binge-eating or purging type:
Less recognised; a person restricts their intake, but also during some bouts of restriction the person has regularly engaged in binge-eating OR purging behaviour such as:

  • Self induced vomiting
  • Over-exercise
  • Misuse of laxatives, diuretics or enemas

Anorexia Nervosa Statistics

0 %
MORTALITY RATE

According to a study done by colleagues at the American Journal of Psychiatry (2009)

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EXPERIENCE ANXIETY DISORDERS

Kaye, W.H., Bulik, C.M., Thornton, L., Barbarich, N., Masters, K., & Price Foundation Collaborative Group. (2004). Comorbidity of anxiety disorders with anorexia and bulimia nervosa. American Journal of Psychiatry, 161, 2215-2221.

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EXPERIENCE DEPRESSION

O’Brien, K.M.O., & Vincent, N.K. (2003). Psychiatric comorbidity in anorexia and bulimia nervosa: Nature, prevalence, and causal relationships. Clinical Pyschology Review, 23, 57-74.

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MEDIAN AGE OF ONSET

Steiner, H, Kwan, W, Shaffer, TG, Walker, S, Miller, S, Sagar, A & Lock, J Ibid.’Risk and protective factors for juvenile eating disorders’, vol. 12 Suppl 1, pp. I36-8.

TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR ANOREXIA NERVOSA

  • Behavioural therapy
  • Cognitive analytic therapy
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy
  • Ego-oriented therapy-adolescent focused individual therapy (for children and adolescents)
  • Focal psychodynamic therapy
  • Family interventions focused explicitly on eating disorders
  • Maudsley family-based treatment (for children and adolescents)
  • Interpersonal psychotherapy
  • Specialist supportive clinical management
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