Anorexia nervosa, often referred to simply as anorexia, is an eating disorder, characterized by low weight, food restriction, fear of gaining weight, and a strong desire to be thin. Many people with anorexia see themselves as overweight even though they are, in fact, underweight. They often deny that they have a problem with low weight. They weigh themselves frequently, eat small amounts, and only eat certain foods.
The cause is currently unknown. There appear to be some genetic components with identical twins more often affected than non-identical twins. Cultural factors also appear to play a role with societies that value thinness having higher rates of disease. Additionally, it occurs more commonly among those involved in activities that value thinness such as high-level athletics, modelling, and dancing.
Signs and symptoms
Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by attempts to lose weight, to the point of starvation. A person with anorexia nervosa may exhibit a number of signs and symptoms, the type and severity of which may vary and may be present but not readily apparent
- A low body mass indexfor one’s age and height.
- Fear of even the slightest weight gaining
- Rapid, continuous weight loss.
- Lanugo: soft, fine hair growing over the face and body
- Hypotension or orthostatic hypotension.
- Bradycardia or tachycardia.
- Depression, anxiety disorders and insomnia.
- Solitude: may avoid friends and family and become more withdrawn and secretive.
- Abdominal distension.
There is no conclusive evidence that any particular treatment for anorexia nervosa works better than others; however, there is enough evidence to suggest that early intervention and treatment more effective.
Diet is the most essential factor to work on in people with anorexia nervosa, and must be tailored to each person’s needs. Food variety is important when establishing meal plans as well as foods that are higher in energy density. People must consume adequate calories, starting slowly, and increasing at a measured pace. Evidence of a role for zinc supplementation during refeeding is unclear.
Family-based treatment (FBT) has been shown to be more successful than individual therapy for adolescents with AN. Various forms of family-based treatment have been proven to work in the treatment of adolescent AN including conjoint family therapy (CFT), in which the parents and child are seen together by the same therapist, and separated family therapy (SFT) in which the parents and child attend therapy separately with different therapists. Proponents of family therapy for adolescents with AN assert that it is important to include parents in the adolescent’s treatment.
(CBT)cognitive behavioural therapy is useful in adolescents and adults with anorexia nervosa, acceptance and commitment therapy is a type of CBT, which has shown promise in the treatment of AN. Cognitive remediation therapy (CRT) is used in treating anorexia nervosa.
Pharmaceuticals have limited benefit for anorexia itself.There is a lack of good information from which to make recommendations concerning the effectiveness of antidepressants in treating anorexia.