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Anorexia Nervosa (cont.)

Diagnosis of Anorexia Nervosa

Medical assessment must include height and weight measurements, vital signs (temperature, pulse, blood pressure and respiratory rate), blood and urine tests, an electrocardiogram (EKG/ECG), and a thorough history and physical exam.

  • Criteria used to diagnose anorexia nervosa include the following signs and symptoms:
    • Refusal to maintain body weight at or above a minimally normal weight for age and height (usually weight has dropped to less than 85% of an expected normal weight)
    • Intense fear of gaining weight or obesity even though underweight
    • Disturbance in the way one pictures or otherwise experiences his or her body weight or shape; undue influence of body weight or shape on one's feeling of self-worth; denying the seriousness of one's current low body weight
    • In menstruating women, missing at least three consecutive menstrual cycles (creates the condition of amenorrhea)
  • Determining the diagnosis of anorexia nervosa is difficult. A variety of acute and chronic medical and psychiatric conditions can have the same signs and symptoms. A physician must rule out the other illnesses, using a history of symptoms, physical examination, and laboratory tests.

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Anorexia Nervosa »

Richard Morton first described anorexia nervosa more than 300 years ago, in 1689, as a condition of "a Nervous Consumption" caused by "sadness, and anxious Cares."

Read More on Medscape Reference »


Medical Dictionary