Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder manifested when a person refuses to eat an adequate amount of food or is unable to maintain the minimal weight for a person's body mass index. Individuals with anorexia often have a distorted body image. Those with anorexia view themselves as fat or bulky in certain areas and have an intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat. The process of restricting becomes a preoccupation and is often obsessive in nature. They may avoid what they perceive as high caloric food and meals, picking out a few foods and eating only these in small quantities, or carefully weighing and portioning food. People with anorexia may repeatedly check their body weight and engage in techniques to control their weight, such as intense and compulsive exercise or abuse of laxatives, enemas, and diuretics. Girls with anorexia often experience a delayed onset of their first menstrual period or amenorrhea (absence of menstrual periods).
In the United States, an estimated 0.9 percent of females and 0.3 percent of males suffer from anorexia nervosa in their lifetime with an increase in the age group of 15- to 19-year-old girls.
Anorexia nervosa is one of the three major types of feeding and eating disorders; the other categories are bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder. Eating disorders frequently co-occur with other psychiatric disorders, such as depression, substance abuse, anxiety disorders, and borderline personality disorder. In addition, people who suffer from eating disorders can experience a wide range of physical health complications, such as loss of bone mineral density, anemia, heart conditions, and kidney failure, which can, in some cases, lead to death.