What Is Classed As Anorexia?

What Is Classed As Anorexia

Anorexia nervosa, often referred to as anorexia, is a potentially life-threatening eating disorder. Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses. They are characterized by abnormal, irregular eating habits, and an extreme concern with one’s body weight or shape. There are several different manifestations of eating disorders. The various types, including anorexia, are listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) under the Disorder Class: Feeding and Eating Disorders. The Mayo Clinic defines anorexia as “an eating disorder characterized by an abnormally low body weight, an intense fear of gaining weight and a distorted perception of weight.” Though anorexia can manifest at any age, research suggests it most commonly develops during adolescence. Young people diagnosed with anorexia engage in a cycle of self-starvation that often results in malnutrition including a lack of essential minerals and nutrients.

 Signs and Symptoms

Teens struggling with anorexia may exhibit behavioral warning signs such as skipping meals, over-exercising, obsessively reading nutritional information, constantly weighing themselves, regularly making excuses not to eat, denial of a problem despite excessive weight loss, etc. Common symptoms that can manifest as a result of anorexia, could can include the following examples, provided by the Mayo Clinic:

  • Thin appearance
  • Insomnia
  • Extreme weight loss
  • Not making expected developmental weight gains
  • Dizziness and/ or fainting
  • Abnormal blood counts
  • Fatigue
  • Thinning, brittle hair
  • Absence of menstruation
  • Dry and/ or yellowish skin
  • Irregular heart rhythms
  • Low blood pressure
  • Dehydration
  • Excessively exercising

Every young person is different and could present with any combination of the above examples when struggling with anorexia. The exact cause behind why a teenager develops anorexia remains unknown, but research has found that it is likely due to a combination of psychological, biological, and environmental factors. There are a variety of treatment options available for young people struggling with anorexia. The goal of treatment for teens with an eating disorder is to help them find a healthy and sustainable relationship with food. If left untreated, anorexia can result in severe short and long-term consequences.

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