Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by voluntary starvation and exercise stress. Anorexia nervosa is a complex disease, involving psychological, sociological and physiological components. A person who is suffering from anorexia is referred to as 'anorexic' or (less commonly) 'anorectic'. "Anorectic" is the noun form, where "anorexic" is the adjectival form. These two are often used incorrectly when applied. Although technically incorrect, the term is frequently shortened to anorexia, which simply refers to the medical symptom of lost appetite. more...
In this article, for the purpose of brevity, anorexia will be used in the place of anorexia nervosa.
Anorectic can also refer to appetite-suppressing drugs.
Sometimes the condition is called variously Cibophobia, Sitophobia, Sitophobia, translated as "aversion to food".
The causes of anorexia are a matter of debate in medical circles and society in general. General perspectives fit between the poles of it being physiological or psychological (with the potential for sociological and cultural influences being a cause to various degrees) in origin. Some now take the opinion that it is a mix of both, in that it is a psychological condition which is often (though not inherently) borne of certain conducive neurophysiologic conditions.
The four DSM IV criteria
The following is the definition of anorexia nervosa from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, used to assist doctors in making a clinical diagnosis. This definition may not be representative of what an individual sufferer feels or experiences in living with the illness. Additionally, it is important to note that an individual may still suffer from a health- or life-threatening eating disorder (e.g., subclinical anorexia nervosa or ED-NOS: eating disorder, not otherwise specified) even if one of the below signs is not present. In particular, a substantial number of patients diagnosed with ED-NOS meet all criteria for diagnosis of anorexia nervosa except the requirement of three consecutive missed menstrual cycles.
- Refusal to maintain body weight at or above a minimally normal weight for age and height (e.g., weight loss leading to maintenance of body weight less than 85% of that expected; or failure to make expected weight gain during period of growth, leading to body weight less than 85% of that expected).
- Intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat, even though underweight.
- 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 denial of the seriousness of the current low body weight.
- In postmenarcheal females (women who have not yet gone through menopause), amenorrhea (the absence of at least three consecutive menstrual cycles).
The two DSM IV Subtypes
- Restricting Type: during the current episode of anorexia nervosa, the person has not regularly engaged in binge-eating or purging behavior (i.e., self-induced vomiting or the misuse of laxatives, diuretics, or enemas)
- Binge-Eating Type or Purging Type: during the current episode of anorexia nervosa, the person has regularly engaged in binge-eating OR purging behavior (i.e., self-induced vomiting or the misuse of laxatives, diuretics, or enemas).
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