Anorexia nervosa is likely the most well-known of the six common types of eating disorders.This disorder usually develops during adolescence or young adulthood. Anorexia can develop in men; however it is more commonly diagnosed in women. A common occurrence among those with the disorder is to see themselves as grossly overweight. This occurs even when in reality they are emaciated and gaunt, often critically underweight and often extremely malnourished. They tend to focus on their scale weight and constantly monitor their caloric intake. They will often avoid eating certain types of food and severely restrict food intake.
Common symptoms of anorexia nervosa include:being considerably underweight (extremely low BMI) compared with people of similar age and height
- restricted eating patterns
- displaying an intense fear of gaining weight
- persistent behaviors to avoid gaining weight, despite being underweight
- an unhealthy pursuit of thinness with an unwillingness to maintain a healthy weight
- self-esteem based upon weight or perceived body shape
- body image not congruent with reality
Obsessive-compulsive symptoms often coexist with Anorexia nervosa. Frequently people with anorexia are preoccupied with constant thoughts about food. Behaviors such as obsessively collecting recipes or hoarding food are common. Many times these individuals have a strong adverse reaction to eating in public. This often coexists with a compulsive need to control their environment. This limits their ability to be spontaneous. Anorexia is officially categorized into two sub-types — the restricting type and the binge eating and purging type.
Those with the restricting type lose weight solely through dieting, fasting, or excessive exercise.
Those individuals with the binge eating and purging type may binge on large amounts of food or severely limit food intake. After eating they purge through vomiting, taking laxatives or diuretics, or exercising excessively.
Anorexia takes a toll on the body. The cumulative effects over time can include thinning of their bones, infertility, brittle hair and nails, and the growth of a layer of fine hair all over their body. When left untreated anorexia can result in heart, brain, or multi-organ failure and death.