Anorexia Nervosa (AN)

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), Anorexia Nervosa (AN) is characterized by:

  • Restriction of energy intake relative to requirements leading to a significantly low body weight in the context of age, sex, developmental trajectory, and physical health

  • Intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat, even though underweight

  • Disturbance in the way in which one's body weight or shape is experienced, undue influence of body weight or shape on self-evaluation, or denial of the seriousness of the current low body weight


Warning Signs

  • Inability to eat or highly restrictive eating, including avoidance of entire food groups (e.g. fats or carbs) leading to weight loss

  • Intense, persistent fear of gaining weight

  • Continuous dieting

  • Excessive facial/body hair because of inadequate protein in the diet

  • Compulsive exercise

  • Abnormal weight loss

  • Sensitivity to cold

  • Absent or irregular menstruation

  • Hair loss

  • Dry hair and skin

  • Preoccupation with cooking for others but not eating

  • Wearing baggy clothing

  • Sleep disturbance/fatigue

  • Abnormal eating behaviors or rituals including precise measuring or weighing of food, extremely slow eating, hiding or stashing food served at mealtime for disposal.

Health Complications

  • Fainting, fatigue, and overall weakness

  • Amenorrhea (cessation of menstrual cycle)

  • Abnormally slow and/or irregular heartbeat

  • Low blood pressure

  • Anemia

  • Poor circulation in hands and feet

  • Muscle loss and weakness (including the heart)

  • Dehydration, which may result in kidney failure

  • Edema/swelling

  • Memory loss/disorientation

  • Chronic constipation

  • Growth of lanugo hair (a very fine, downy layer of hair on the body and face grown in an effort to keep the body warm)

  • Bone density loss (Osteoporosis)