The term anorexia comes from the Greek "anorexia" and literally means "lack of appetite". However, this is not a completely appropriate definition, as the central idea of anorexia is not the fact of not feeling hunger, but the desire of being thin which is considered as pathological. According to the DSM 5 the diagnosis includes:
- Restriction in calories intake in reference to needs, which results in a significantly low weight within the context old, sex, development trajectory and physical health.
- “ Intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat, or persistent behavior that interferes with weight gain, whether or not significantly low.”
- Alteration of the way within which the load or shape of their body is experienced by the individual, excessive influence of the burden or shape of the body on self-esteem levels, or persistent lack of recognition of the severity of this underweight condition.
Restricted type: During the last 3 months, the individual has not had recurrent episodes of bingeing or purging (eg, self-induced vomiting or inappropriate use of laxatives, diuretics or enemas). In this subtype, weight loss is mainly achieved through diet, fasting and / or excessive physical activity.
Type with binge eating / purging: During the last 3 months, the individual has had recurrent episodes of bingeing or purging (ie, self-induced vomiting or inappropriate use of laxatives, diuretics or enemas).
Physical symptoms of anorexia nervosa
Excessive thinness can lead to serious damage to all organs of the body, affecting different systems and generating various physical symptoms, among which the most frequent physical symptoms are:
- Reduction of blood pressure.
- Slowing of heart rate (bradycardia).
- Amenorrhea (absence of the menstrual cycle).
- Osteopenia / osteoporosis.
- Growth retardation / impairment.
- Brittle and thin hair.
- Haematological problems (anemia, leukopenia, etc).
- Muscle weakness with loss of lean mass.
- Kidney problems.
- Changes in the levels of sodium, magnesium, potassium, calcium, iron and phosphorus.
- Gastrointestinal problems (digestive difficulties, constipation, slowed gastric emptying, etc). Growth of hair all over the body (hypertrichosis).
- Feeling cold.
- Lowering of body temperature.
- Brittle nails.
- Hormonal dysfunctions
Peñas‐Lledó, E., Vaz Leal, F. J., & Waller, G. (2002). Excessive exercise in anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa: relation to eating characteristics and general psychopathology. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 31(4), 370-375.
Bordo, S. (2020). Anorexia nervosa (pp. 139-164). University of California Press.
Yager, J., & Andersen, A. E. (2005). Anorexia nervosa. New England Journal of Medicine, 353(14), 1481-1488.
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