Main Features of Anorexia Nervosa
Behaviours Associated with Anorexia Nervosa
Physical Consequences of Weight Loss
Anorexia nervosa is more prevalent among females ( 90 % are women) and usually begins in early or late adolescence. A recent study by Woodside et al. (2001) of a community sample in Ontario found the prevalence rate of full syndrome eating disorders (anorexia and bulimia combined) in men was 0.3%, compared with 2.1% for women. Results of full or partial eating disorders for men was 2 %, compared with 4.8% for women. The female-male ratio of full or partial syndrome anorexia nervosa was 2:1. Common characteristics of persons with anorexia are: a tendency toward perfectionism, high achiever and difficulty adapting to change.
Anorexia nervosa usually starts with dieting and continues into a cycle of losing weight and not eating. Individuals with anorexia nervosa may exhibit a combination of food restriction and purging (laxatives, diuretics, self-induced vomiting) to maintain a low weight. Restrictive behaviors include under eating, avoidance of high calorie food and engaging in strenuous exercise. These behaviors undermine an individual's physical health, self-esteem and feelings of competency. Fifteen percent of people who develop anorexia die either directly from or consequences of the eating disorder such as heart failure.
Treatment for anorexia nervosa should be individualized and may include: hospital inpatient programs, outpatient day programs, medication to treat an associated mood disorder, individual or group psychotherapy. Therapists use different approaches and some of the more common ways to treat anorexia nervosa include behaviour therapy, cognitive-behaviour therapy, family therapy, psychodynamic or expressive art therapies. Sheena's Place functions as a community resource for individuals to access support at any point in their recovery.
American Psychiatric Association, (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.
American Psychiatric Association Work Group on Eating Disorders (2000). Practice guidelines for the treatment of patients with eating disorders. American Journal of Psychiatry, 157(1), 1-39.
Mehler, P.S, & Anderson, A.E. (Eds.). (1999). Eating disorders: A guide to medical care and complications. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press.
Woodside D.B., Garfinkel P.E., Lin E., Goering P., Kaplan A.S., Goldbloom D.S. et al. (2001). Comparisons of men with full or partial eating disorders, men without eating disorders, and women with eating disorders in the community. American Journal of Psychiatry, 158 (4), 570-574.
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