The different types of eating disorder diagnoses include:
Anorexia nervosa, often simply called anorexia, is an eating disorder characterized by abnormally low body weight, an intense fear of gaining weight, and a distorted perception of one’s body weight. A diagnosis of anorexia is based on the following:
The diagnosis of anorexia has two subtypes that may be specified. These include:
The most common ages of onset of anorexia are the mid-teens, between 14 and 18 years. However, up to 5 percent of patients have the onset of the disorder in their early 20s. Anorexia is estimated to occur in about 0.5 to 1 percent of adolescent girls. It occurs 10 to 20 times more often in females than in males.
Anorexia appears to be a way for adolescents to express a form of autonomy. Many adolescents with anorexia experience their bodies as somehow under the control of their parents, so that self-starvation may be an effort to gain validation as a unique and independent person. Only through acts of extraordinary self-discipline can an anorectic patient develop a sense of autonomy and selfhood. Psychotherapists who treat patients with anorexia generally agree that these young patients have been unable to separate psychologically from their mothers. The body may be perceived as though it were controlled by an intrusive and unempathetic mother. Starvation may unconsciously mean rebelling from this controlling presence.
Individuals with anorexia have high rates of major depressive disorders. The suicide rate is higher in patients with the binge eating-purging type of anorexia than in the restricting type. Patients with anorexia are often secretive, deny their symptoms, and resist treatment. In almost all cases, relatives or intimate friends must confirm a patient’s history.
Because of the complicated psychological and medical implications of anorexia, a comprehensive treatment plan, including hospitalization when necessary, is recommended. Both individual and family therapy are recommended. Cognitive-behavioral therapy has proved effective for inducing weight gain. In many cases, medication may be needed. Participation in support groups, such as those provided by the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, may also be helpful.
Mental Health Library Sources:
Information included in all topics of the Mental Health Library comes from the Desk Reference to the Diagnostic Criteria From DSM-5 and Kaplan & Sadock’s Concise Textbook of Clinical Psychiatry. Complete diagnostic and treatment information may be found within these publications.
Information within the Mental Health Library is not intended to be used for self-diagnosis purposes. Rather, it is provided as a public educational service to make people aware of mental health conditions. Please consult a qualified mental health professional for a diagnosis of any suspected mental health illness.
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