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Anorexia Nervosa (AN) : Awareness

Originally written by @Hope

Transferred by @emsworld

What is Anorexia Nervosa?

Anorexia Nervosa is characterised by persistent energy intake restriction, intense fear of gaining weight and disturbance in self perceived weight or shape. For some people, restricting their food and weight can be a way of controlling areas of life that feel out of their control and their body image can come to define their entire sense of self worth. It can also be a way of expressing emotions that may feel too complex or frightening such as pain, stress or anxiety.


Types of Anorexia:

i) Restrictive Anorexia Nervosa

People with this subtype place severe restrictions on the amount and type of food they consume. This can manifest in different ways including some or all of the following:

- Restricting certain food groups (e.g. carbohydrates, fats)

- Counting calories

- Skipping meals

- Obsessive rules and rigid thinking (e.g. only eating food that is one colour)

- These restrictive behaviours around food can be accompanied by excessive exercise.


ii) Anorexia Nervosa Binge / Purge Type

Anorexia Binge Eating Type is a combination of both Anorexia and Bulimia. A person will restrict their diet for long period of time and on resuming their intake will eat huge amounts of high carbohydrate, high sugar foods. Whilst in the binge mode their problems evaporate as they experience a feeling of wellbeing as the sugar rush kicks in! Once the binge is over there is an overwhelming fear of gaining weight and the sufferers will rid themselves of the food through purging (vomiting, over exercise or laxatives). They are consumed by guilt and shame and can binge to feel good again! This then becomes a vicious cycle of binging purge mode and it is very difficult to break the cycle.


3)What are the symptoms of Anorexia?

An individual suffering from anorexia nervosa may reveal one or several signs and symptoms such as:

- Chronic dieting despite being hazardously underweight

- Obsession with calories and fat contents of food

- Engaging in ritualistic eating patterns, such as cutting food into tiny pieces, eating alone, and/or hiding food

- Continued fixation with food, recipes, or cooking; the individual may cook intricate meals for others but refrain from partaking

- Amenorrhea: an abnormal absence of menstruation, or loss of 3 consecutive menstrual cycles

- Depression or lethargic stage

- Development of lanugo: soft, fine hair that grows on face and body

- Reported sensation of feeling cold, particularly in extremities

- Loss or thinning of hair

- Avoidance of social functions, family and friends. May become isolated and withdrawn



4) What factors can influence Anorexia?

Certain risk factors increase the risk of anorexia nervosa, including:

Being female. Anorexia is more common in girls and women. However, boys and men have been increasingly developing eating disorders, perhaps because of growing social pressures.

Young age. Anorexia is more common among teenagers. Still, people of any age can develop this eating disorder, though it's rare in those over 40. Teens may be more susceptible because of all the changes their bodies go through during puberty. They also may face increased peer pressure and be more sensitive to criticism or even casual comments about weight or body shape.

Genetics. Changes in certain genes may make people more susceptible to anorexia.

Family history. Those with a first-degree relative — a parent, sibling or child — who had the disease have a much higher risk of anorexia.

Weight changes. When people change weight — on purpose or unintentionally — those changes may be reinforced by positive comments from others for losing weight or by negative remarks for gaining weight. Such changes and comments may trigger someone to start dieting to an extreme. In addition, starvation and weight loss may change the way the brain works in vulnerable individuals, which may perpetuate restrictive eating behaviors and make it difficult to return to normal eating habits.

Transitions. Whether it's a new school, home or job; a relationship breakup; or the death or illness of a loved one, change can bring emotional stress and increase the risk of anorexia.

Sports, work and artistic activities. Athletes, actors, dancers and models are at higher risk of anorexia. Coaches and parents may inadvertently raise the risk by suggesting that young athletes lose weight.

Media and society. The media, such as TV and fashion magazines, frequently feature a parade of skinny models and actors. These images may seem to equate thinness with success and popularity. But whether the media merely reflect social values or actually drive them isn't clear-cut.



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