anorexia nervosa

Written by: Mª José Moreno Magaña
Edited by: Top Doctors®

Throughout history the canons of beauty have been changing, reaching at present as ideal of beauty a slim figure especially in women, while for men the ideal figure is muscled. For this reason, anorexia nervosa occurs mostly in women.

Anorexia nervosa is a serious disorder of the alimentary behavior in which the person who suffers it weighs less than what it should because of its age, sex and height. Weight loss is caused by an extreme reduction in food intake. In 50% of cases, in addition, self-induced vomiting, abuse of laxatives and / or diuretics and strenuous exercise to lose weight are resorted to.

The anorexic patient has an intense fear of weight gain despite the fact that it decreases alarmingly. The distortion of body image is a constant, overestimating the dimensions of your body, which makes them persist in the desire to lose weight. It is very common that there is no awareness of illness.

It is very frequent that the patient does not identify or does not accept that she has an illness or eating disorder 


Consequences of anorexia nervosa


- Depressive feelings, insomnia, crying, sadness, irritability or anxiety

- Low selfsteem

- Culpability for eating.


- Perfectionism

- Obsessive thoughts about weight and food (count calories from food, or calculate calories consumed / burned)

- Ideas of death or suicide.


- A lot of physical activity (walking instead of using a means of transport, dedicating many hours to exercise, standing to burn more calories ...)

- With regard to food, the anorexic patient, apart from eating little, usually hides food, cooks for others but does not eat and consult all kinds of diets.

- Behaviors related to the body: weigh yourself a lot or never, cover your body with a lot of clothes, check your body in mirrors or never do it, measure yourself, touch yourself ... In serious cases you can cause self-harm.

- They star in conflicts in their families / friends or socially isolate themselves.

Most of the physical alterations that appear during the illness can disappear when the recommended ideal weight is recovered.

The most frequent are: Dry skin, appearance of hair (cheeks, back, forearms and thighs), changes in skin pigmentation, brittle nails and hair loss, dental alterations and, of course, gastrointestinal disorders.



The first step is to get the person suffering from anorexia to recognize the problem. The second step will be to restore healthy weight. The treatment has to be multidisciplinary, mainly psychological since it is a mental illness. In the cases in which there are attempts of suicide, failure in the ambulatory treatment or in situations of serious mental deterioration the hospitalization will be carried out.

The most effective psychological treatment is cognitive-behavioral and the objectives are:

-Modify the set of inappropriate thoughts, attitudes and feelings related to the eating disorder.

-To treat the associated psychological disorders, such as alterations in mood and low self-esteem.

- Obtain family support and provide the family with counseling and therapy when necessary.

- Prevent relapse.


*Translated with Google translator. We apologize for any imperfection

By Mª José Moreno Magaña

He is a psychologist with extensive experience in treating eating disorders. In addition to the race, I do a master in Behavioral Intervention in Health Psychology from the Complutense University of Madrid and is currently Professor of Clinical Psychology and Master of Health in ISEP.

*Translated with Google translator. We apologize for any imperfection

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