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Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia Nervosa, also known as anorexia, is an eating disorder that causes individuals to lose weight in an abnormal pattern relative to their height and age. The main characteristic of anorexia nervosa is the severe restriction of food intake. Individuals with this disorder are extremely fearful of weight gain, even though they are often underweight. They exercise, diet, or use a variety of other methods to lose weight.

The causes of anorexia have not been definitively established. It is thought that factors such as low self-esteem, poor body image, societal and familial pressures, and genetic predispositions could contribute to the development of the disorder. Anorexia usually starts in adolescence and is much more common in females than males. At some point in their lives, 0.9% of adult females and 0.3% of adult males have reported that they have anorexia. Of U.S. adolescent girls, 1% are suffering from anorexia.

Symptoms of Anorexia

Anorexia nervosa can be identified by the following symptoms:

  • Do you have compulsive behaviors and an obsession with food? Do you overly control your food intake?
  • Have you been exercising a great amount, even when you are hurt or your schedule is busy? Do you use diuretics, laxatives, or appetite suppressants?
  • Do you refuse to eat around other people?
  • Are you intensely fearful of gaining weight, even when your weight is at a medically-appropriate level? Are you especially focused on your appearance?
  • Are you extremely sensitive to cold?
  • If you are a female who has gone through puberty, have you missed at least three consecutive menstrual cycles?
  • Are you a perfectionist?
  • Do you feel depressed or anxious? Do you feel like you are not functioning on your optimal level?

Treatment of Anorexia

Dr. E. Spector's treatment of anorexia starts with addressing underlying issues, such as low self-esteem, depression, and/or anxiety. Working with maladaptive cognitive schemas (patterns of thoughts that hinder a person)is one important therapeutic goal. Developing a realistic concept of a healthy body image is another necessary part of successful treatment. Dr. Spector collaborates with professionals from other fields to enhance her clients' progress with medical evaluation and/or nutritional counseling.