Skip to Content

Identify Anorexia


Anorexia nervosa - commonly referred to as anorexia - is one of the most common eating disorders.

Sufferers of anorexia see themselves as overweight when, in fact, they are extremely underweight, even emaciated. Studies suggest that about one percent of adolescent females are affected by anorexia, according to Anorexia Nervosa and Related Eating Disorders (ANRED). If left untreated, anorexia can cause a host of serious medical conditions, including death.

Anorexia Defined

Anorexia is technically defined as the “inability of a person to maintain body weight within 15 percent of the Ideal Body Weight (IBW).” Sufferers typically are very skinny, emaciated looking and do not generally look healthy.

Signs and Symptoms

Despite being extremely thin, people with anorexia still pursue losing more weight and may engage in extreme dieting or binge eating followed by purging or excessive exercise to shed the excess calories consumed. Other anorexics may abuse or misuse laxatives, enemas or diuretic medications in order to get “rid” of any food that is consumed.

Long-Term Complications

In addition to the increased risk of death, other complications stemming from anorexia may include brittle hair and nails; yellowish, dry skin; thinning bones, or osteoporosis; muscle wasting and weakness; low blood pressure; heart and/or brain damage; shutdown or failure of multiple organs; infertility; feeling tired, or lethargy, all of the time; and loss of monthly period, or amenhorrea.


Treatment for anorexia may include immediate medical attention and care, psychotherapy, nutrition counseling, medication and/or ongoing medical monitoring.

Sources: National Institute of Mental Health, ANRED