What is Anorexia Nervosa?

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that is prevalent especially among young women and, increasingly, among young men. Marked by a distorted sense of body image and extreme voluntary starvation—and closely associated with perfectionism and depression—it is the most deadly psychiatric disorder. Anorexia is highly resistant to treatment, and when the starvation becomes life-threatening, the usual recourse is hospitalization with forced feeding.

Recent Posts on Anorexia Nervosa

Why the "Eat Less, Move More" Approach Often Fails

Why the "Eat Less, Move More" Approach Often Fails. Not all calories are the same, By Susan Kolod, Ph.D.

Eating Disorders in the Orthodox Jewish Community

Eating Disorders: What Does Being an Orthodox Jew Have to do With It? Contradictory demands on women may result in disordered eating. By Caryn Gordon, Psy. D.

The 'Journey' of Psychotherapy

The “Journey” of Psychotherapy: On a voyage with an eating disordered patient. By Hilary Maddux, LCSW

Queen of Consciousness

By Susan Blackmore Ph.D. on February 20, 2015 in Ten Zen Questions
I was “Queen of consciousness” in this month’s PT magazine, talking about out-of-body experiences, hallucinogenic drugs, anorexia and the future of technology.

Feeling Stuck in Your Battle Against an Eating Disorder?

By Nancy Matsumoto on February 20, 2015 in Eating Disorders News
"At some point we made pain a problem to be solved like a math problem. Pain can't be solved any more than a sunset can be solved."

You Can’t Save Your Child From Their Anorexia

By Emily T. Troscianko on February 18, 2015 in A Hunger Artist
This guest post by my mother Sue Blackmore reflects on the difficulty, for parents with an anorexic child, of striking the right balance between caring for their child and ruining their own lives trying and failing to help.

Ten Surprising Facts about Brooding

By Guy Winch Ph.D. on February 15, 2015 in The Squeaky Wheel
We typically try to process painful or upsetting experiences by self-reflecting and thinking about them. While it is common to replay distressing events in our minds, there are healthy and unhealthy ways to do it. Do you know the difference?

How Family Becomes Food

There are many factors that contribute to eating disorders including family and relational issues. No blame....just all members accepting responsibility and learning how to change and grow.

Recovering from Anorexia: How and Why to Start

By Emily T. Troscianko on January 19, 2015 in A Hunger Artist
In this companion piece to my post on how and why not to stop halfway in recovery from anorexia, I focus on anorexia’s other halfway state, the one between first achieving insight and first taking action, and try to offer ways of both understanding and escaping this particular limbo.

How To Do Christmas Better

By Emily T. Troscianko on December 12, 2014 in A Hunger Artist
This post is for anyone who finds themselves somewhere between a restrictive eating disorder and full recovery – or who just generally struggles a bit with Christmas. It’s about finding ways of making Christmas happier, healthier, and more connected, and it invites you to share your own concrete plans for doing better this Christmas.

The Fast Diet: A Fast Route to Disordered Eating?

By Emily T. Troscianko on November 05, 2014 in A Hunger Artist
Fasting diets have been all the rage recently, but does the evidence for them add up, and is what they’re promoting any better than a socially sanctioned eating disorder?

When Healthy Eating Turns Unhealthy: Orthorexia Nervosa

By Sylvia R. Karasu M.D. on September 27, 2014 in The Gravity of Weight
In this era in which overweight and obesity have reached epidemic proportions globally, is it possible to be too preoccupied with healthy eating? Are you a judgmental "righteous eater"?

Recovery from Anorexia: Why the Rules *Do* Apply to You

By Emily T. Troscianko on August 12, 2014 in A Hunger Artist
One of the most common traits in anorexia is the sufferer’s feeling that their illness and/or their recovery must be different from everyone else’s – so much so that this conviction becomes in itself a reliable marker of similarity. I explore how and where this shared illusion of difference manifests itself and why it needs resisting.

Eleven Ways REBT Can Help Anorexia

By Pamela D. Garcy Ph.D. on June 23, 2014 in Fearless You
Because anorexia is fed by distressing and inaccurate thinking, therapies such as REBT, which teach patients how to think, may be useful to people with this condition.

What Anorexics Really Feel About Food

By Emily T. Troscianko on May 15, 2014 in A Hunger Artist
What’s really going on when people suffering from anorexia refuse to eat? It isn’t usually as simple as not experiencing hunger, and a profound enjoyment of food is often also part of the illness. So what are the mechanisms driving the destructive and sometimes deadly abnormalities in how feeling hunger and liking food relate to wanting food and eating it?

Eating Disorders in the Online World

By Emily T. Troscianko on March 25, 2014 in A Hunger Artist
The internet can be a dangerous place where people suffering from eating disorders offer each other encouragement to be ill ‘better’. What are the forces driving this worrying development, and what can we do about it?

Recovering from Anorexia: How and Why Not to Stop Halfway

By Emily T. Troscianko on February 22, 2014 in A Hunger Artist
How do you get past the in-between stage of having regained some weight but probably not enough, past the distressing limbo between sickness and health? What do you do when you know you're not well again yet but you fear going any further?

The Silent Suffering of Eating Disorders

By Ken J Rotenberg Ph.D. on February 17, 2014 in A Matter of Trust
Millions of women suffer from eating disorders.Tragically our research show that they often suffer in silence. This blog describes our research that shows that people with eating disorders (e.g., bulimia nervosa) show social withdrawal syndrome in which they have low trust beliefs in others, an unwillingness to disclose, and loneliness. These prevent treatment.

How Do You Know If Your Son Has an Eating Disorder?

About ten percent of anorexics and bulimics are male, but because the presentation of symptoms is different than it is for females, at risk boys may go undetected.

Anorexia on Prozac

By Emily T. Troscianko on October 11, 2013 in A Hunger Artist
I review the arguments and evidence for and against the prescription of antidepressants in the treatment of anorexia, and describe my own experience of taking Prozac before starting weight gain and therapy.

Do Obesity Conversations Cause Eating Disorders?

By David Rettew M.D. on September 30, 2013 in ABCs of Child Psychiatry
In trying to address childhood obesity, parents and medical professionals alike have been worried about triggering an eating disorder by bringing up the topic at all. A new study, however, reports that there may be a better way to have that conversation.

Fat Versus Eating Disorder

Americans are getting fatter. Does this mean therefore that everyone who is "triggered" to overeat really has an eating disorder? Perhaps understanding what motivates a "trigger" can shed some light.

Not Being the Thinnest Any More—How to Adjust

By Emily T. Troscianko on June 27, 2013 in A Hunger Artist
After years of starving yourself, followed by months of regaining the weight you lost in anorexia, there comes a point where you realise that your body no longer looks anorexic, and this can be very hard to deal with. Here I offer some thoughts on how to make it easier, by both being strict with yourself and being gentle.

The Humpty Dumpty Syndrome

When you look in the mirror do you feel like you're somehow flawed? It's time to bring a little self-acceptance, self-love, and self-appreciation to that image.

The Obesity Myth: Part 2

Many people need to lose weight and take more care of their diet and health. However at least as many people need to stop worrying about their weight and living in a house built on body shame and self-hatred.

Destigmatizing Childhood Mental Health

Mental illness is a real issue facing many of today's youth. In the U.S. alone, approximately 5 million children have some type of serious mental illness. Unfortunately, only 20% of those affected youth are identified and receive the mental health services they need.

Change of Heart

From a clinician's point of view, is it better to get the weight gain over as quickly as possible, like ripping a band-aid off a wound or preferable to gain at a slower pace? I now believe that there is no one answer. Just as I learned to relinquish the rigidity of the anorexia, I am now more flexible in my thinking about treatment. There is no one right path to recovery.

What Are You Avoiding? Behaviors That Maintain Anorexia

By Nancy Matsumoto on March 14, 2013 in Eating Disorders News
A new adaptation of acceptance-based therapy helps replace rigid, avoidant behavior with more accepting, flexible behaviors.

Eating Disorders: Fighting Stigma with Science

In honor of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, it is time to replace myths about eating disorders with truths.

Five Questions to Determine if You Have an Eating Disorder

By Mark Borigini M.D. on February 20, 2013 in Overcoming Pain
While the health care profession in this country acts as warmonger in the ongoing battle against obesity, it is important to not forget that about one-half of adult Americans already are on a diet on any given day. Unfortunately, according to the National Eating Disorders Association, approximately one-quarter of these adults will develop some degree of eating disorder.