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Anorexia Nervosa (cont.)

What Specialists Treat Anorexia Nervosa?

Specialists who may diagnose and treat anorexia nervosa include primary-care providers, psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, psychoanalysts, psychiatric nurses and nurse practitioners, social workers, nutritionists, and mental-health physician assistants.

How Do Health-Care Professionals Diagnose 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
    • Intense fear of gaining weight, of obesity, or consistent behavior that prevents weight gain even though the sufferer is severely 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-esteem; denying the seriousness of one's current low body weight
    • There are two subtypes of anorexia: restricting and binge-eating/purging subtypes.
      • The restricting type of anorexia refers to the sufferer refraining from recurrent binging or purging such that weight loss is mostly achieved through dieting, fasting, and/or excessive exercise.
      • The binge-eating/purging type of anorexia is described as engaging in binging or purging (making oneself vomit or misusing laxatives, diuretics, or enemas).
    • Atypical anorexia nervosa often refers to people who have some symptoms of anorexia, like all the criteria for the disorder except for weight criteria, anorexia without amenorrhea, or anorexia with no fear of gaining weight. 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.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/2/2016

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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 »


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