Eating Disorders

What is Anorexia Nervosa (AN)?

Literally meaning a “lack of appetite,” anorexia is categorized by the intense fear of gaining weight, self-starvation and the refusal to maintain a healthy body weight for age, height and life-stage. The disorder generally involves severe calorie restrictions but can also occur with binge-eating and purging (compensatory) episodes. Individuals with AN have a distorted body image which convinces the person they are ‘fat’ when in fact they may be dangerously underweight. Anorexia Nervosa can have severe physical and emotional consequences and has the highest mortality rate of any psychological disorder.

AN is diagnosed by these specific criteria:

  1. Restriction of energy intake relative to requirements, leading to a significantly low body weight in the context of age, sex, developmental trajectory, and physical health. Significantly low weight is defined as a weight that is less than minimally normal; for children and adolescents this means less than that minimally expected for growth.
  2. Intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat, or persistent behavior that interferes with weight gain despite significantly low body weight.
  3. Disturbance in the way in which one’s body weight or shape is experienced, undue influence of body weight or shape on self-evaluation, or persistent lack of recognition of the seriousness of the current low body weight.

(Adapted from the DSM-5)