Dr Priya R Nair, Consultant Psychiatrist
Anorexia nervosa is characterized by a relentless pursuit of thinness, a morbid fear of obesity, a distorted body image, and restriction of intake relative to requirements, leading to a significantly low body weight. Diagnosis is clinical. Most treatment is with some form of psychologic and behavioral therapy. Involvement of the family is crucial to the care of younger patients.Anorexia nervosa occurs predominantly in girls and young women. Onset is usually during adolescence and rarely after age 40.
Types of Anorexia:
- People with this type of anorexia nervosa place severe restrictions on the quantity and type of food they consume.
- This could include counting calories, skipping meals, restricting certain foods (such as carbohydrates) and following obsessive rules, such as only eating foods of a certain colour.
- These behaviours may be accompanied by excessive exercise.
Binge eating/purging type
- People with this type of anorexia also place restrictions on the food they eat. But this is accompanied by binge eating and then purging.
- Binge eating means someone eats a large amount of food to cope with feelings of being out of control. The person then 'compensates' for this eating by purging the food through vomiting or misusing laxatives, diuretics or enemas.
Symptoms and Signs
Anorexia nervosa may be mild and transient or severe and persistent.
Anorexia is a misnomer because appetite often remains until patients become significantly cachectic. Patients are preoccupied with food:
- They may study diets and calories.
- They may hoard, conceal, and waste food.
- They may collect recipes.
- They may prepare elaborate meals for other people.
- Nutrition supplementation
- Psychologic therapy (eg, cognitive-behavioral treatment)
- For children and adolescents, family-based treatment
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Dr Priya R Nair
Neya Psychiatric Clinic