Anorexia Nervosa is a type of eating disorder which most commonly starts in adolescence but can also start in childhood and adulthood. People with Anorexia Nervosa strive to maintain a low body weight by dieting, vomiting after eating, using laxatives and diuretics (water tablets) or exercising excessively.
Very often Anorexia Nervosa begins with seemingly harmless dieting. However unlike normal dieting which stops when the desired weight is reached, in Anorexia Nervosa the loss of weight continues until the sufferer is well below the normal limit for their age and height.
Central to the illness is an intense fear of becoming ‘fat’ and a need to exert extreme control over eating and body weight. This need gets stronger the more weight the person loses. People with Anorexia Nervosa may see their weight loss and control as a positive achievement which improves their self-esteem.
Another important feature of Anorexia Nervosa is distorted body image. People with Anorexia Nervosa often do not see themselves as others do and usually do not recognize that they are underweight.
As a consequence of these features, people with Anorexia Nervosa are often very reluctant to seek help for their eating problems.
Mental Health foundation booklet All about Anorexia nervosa is for people with anorexia nervosa, their families or anyone who is interested in learning more about the condition