Anorexia nervosa- what is it and how do we treat it?

Anorexia nervosa is probably the one eating disorder that you have heard about a lot. You might have seen it portrayed in the movies, series, books. The skinny, unwell young girl but that can be very deceiving image.

So when someone may be diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa?


“To be diagnosed with anorexia nervosa according to the DSM-5, the following criteria must be met:

  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.
  2. Intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat, even though underweight.
  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 denial of the seriousness of the current low body weight.

Even if all the DSM-5 criteria for anorexia are not met, a serious eating disorder can still be present. Atypical anorexia includes those individuals who meet the criteria for anorexia but who are not underweight despite significant weight loss. Research studies have not found a difference in the medical and psychological impacts of anorexia and atypical anorexia.”

(from,developmental%20trajectory%2C%20and%20physical%20health. )

Wha kind of treatment is available?

  •  Treatment modality will depend on the client, their age and their preferences. Reasearhc does not indicate too many differences between different approaches. These could include:
    •  Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for eating disorders (CBT-E)
    • Maudsley Anorexia Nervosa Treatment for Adults (MANTRA)
    • Specialist Supportive Clinical Management (SSCM)
    • Eating Disorder focused Focal Psychodynamic Therapy

It is important to understand the illness first and commence attending regular medical appointment.

What are the risks associated with Anorexia?

“The risks associated with Anorexia are severe and can be life threatening. They include:

  • – Anaemia (iron deficiency)
  • – Compromised immune system (e.g. getting sick more often)
  • – Intestinal problems (e.g. abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhoea)
  • – Loss or disturbance of menstruation
  • – Increased risk of infertility
  • – Kidney failure
  • – Osteoporosis– a condition that leads to bones becoming fragile and easily fractured
  • – Heart problems (e.g. cardiac abnormalities, sudden cardiac arrest)
  • -Death”
  • (extracted from: )

Remember : recovery from an eating disorder is possible! Get yourself the care you need!