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Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa, often referred to simply as anorexia, is an eating disorder characterized by a low weight, fear of gaining weight, a strong desire to be thin, and food restriction.

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(Source: Wikipedia)

About Anorexia Nervosa

Many people with anorexia nervosa see themselves as overweight, even when they are clearly underweight. Eating, food, and weight control become obsessions. People with anorexia nervosa typically weigh themselves repeatedly, portion food carefully, and eat very small quantities of only certain foods. Some people with anorexia nervosa also may engage in binge eating followed by extreme dieting, excessive exercise, self-induced vomiting, or misuse of laxatives, diuretics, or enemas.

Symptoms of anorexia nervosa include:

  • Extremely low body weight
  • Severe food restriction
  • Relentless pursuit of thinness and unwillingness to maintain a normal or healthy weight
  • Intense fear of gaining weight
  • Distorted body image and self-esteem that is heavily influenced by perceptions of body weight and shape, or a denial of the seriousness of low body weight
  • Lack of menstruation among girls and women...

Read more about Anorexia Nervosa
NIH - National Institute of Mental Health

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Antidepressants for anorexia nervosa

The aim of the present review was to evaluate the evidence from randomised controlled trials for the efficacy and acceptability of antidepressant treatment in acute AN. Seven small studies were identified; four placebo‐controlled trials did not find evidence of efficacy of antidepressants in improving weight gain, eating disorder or associated symptoms, as well as differences in completion rates. Meta‐analysis of data was not possible for most outcomes. However, major methodological limitations of these studies (e.g. insufficient power to detect differences) prevent from drawing definite conclusions or recommendations for antidepressant use in acute AN. Further studies testing safer antidepressants in larger and well designed trials are needed to guide clinical practice.

Family therapy for those diagnosed with anorexia nervosa

Anorexia nervosa (AN) is a disorder characterised by deliberately maintained low body weight and distorted body image. Those with AN have many medical and psychological complications and the risk of dying from the disease is relatively high.

Exercise in the care of patients with anorexia nervosa: a systematic review of the literature

Bibliographic details: Moola FJ, Gairdner SE, Amara CE.  Exercise in the care of patients with anorexia nervosa: a systematic review of the literature. Mental Health and Physical Activity 2013; 6(2): 59-68

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Summaries for consumers

Antidepressants for anorexia nervosa

The aim of the present review was to evaluate the evidence from randomised controlled trials for the efficacy and acceptability of antidepressant treatment in acute AN. Seven small studies were identified; four placebo‐controlled trials did not find evidence of efficacy of antidepressants in improving weight gain, eating disorder or associated symptoms, as well as differences in completion rates. Meta‐analysis of data was not possible for most outcomes. However, major methodological limitations of these studies (e.g. insufficient power to detect differences) prevent from drawing definite conclusions or recommendations for antidepressant use in acute AN. Further studies testing safer antidepressants in larger and well designed trials are needed to guide clinical practice.

Family therapy for those diagnosed with anorexia nervosa

Anorexia nervosa (AN) is a disorder characterised by deliberately maintained low body weight and distorted body image. Those with AN have many medical and psychological complications and the risk of dying from the disease is relatively high.

Outpatient psychological therapy for adults with anorexia

Anorexia nervosa is a severe and disabling mental health disorder of self starvation. In the general population the lifetime prevalence of anorexia nervosa may be as high as 5 in 100 women. About one in 10 people with anorexia nervosa is male. Psychological therapies are the main treatment and most people are treated as outpatients. A number of different types of therapy are used, from dynamic (where past issues are explored) to very directive cognitive‐behavioural therapies (where specific advice is given and people are required to keep records of their eating behaviour). It is important to know which psychological therapy is most likely to help people recover. This review aimed to assess evidence about the effects of individual psychological therapy (therapy provided to one person as opposed to a group) delivered in outpatient settings to older adolescents and adults with anorexia nervosa.

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More about Anorexia Nervosa

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Other terms to know:
Anorexia, Binge Eating

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