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Anorexia Nervosa

What is Anorexia Nervosa?

Anorexia nervosa is a common eating disorder. People with anorexia restrict the amount of food they eat and/or exercise excessively to lose weight regardless of their actual weight. Their weight is closely tied to their emotions, self-esteem, self-worth, and confidence. They may also view control over their weight as a demonstration of self-control, and deny the harmful effects of significant weight loss.

There are very real physiological and psychological concerns for individuals who have anorexia. They may experience heart and kidney problems, low iron levels in their blood, digestive problems, low heart rate, low blood pressure, and women may experience fertility problems. As many as 10% of people with anorexia die as a result of health complications or suicide.


People with anorexia may exhibit the following signs and symptoms:

  • Refusal to maintain a weight that is considered normal for their specific height, age and history (typically they will weigh less than 85% of their accepted weight range)
  • Weight loss through unreasonable restriction of food
  • Excessive exercising
  • Severe fear of weight gain
  • For women with active menstrual cycles: Have missed 3 or more consecutive cycles


Most individuals with anorexia deny that they have a problem. It often takes the encouragement of family and friends for individuals to seek the professional help they need. Treatments may include a combination of the following:

  • Individual, group, and/or family psychotherapy
  • Medical care and monitoring
  • Nutritional counselling
  • Medication

Dalton Associates can help you find the right mental health professional for the treatment of anorexia. They may use Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, or a combination of therapies, to effectively help you reduce or eliminate thoughts that lead to anorexia behaviours. Treatment will also involve restoring the individual to a healthy weight, and treating the psychological issues behind the development of the disorder.


Canadian Mental Health Association. (2016). Eating disorders.
Retrieved from

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, pp. 583-594, Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association, 2000.

Kaplan, Harold I., M.D. and Sadock, Benjamin J., M.D., Kaplan and Sadock’s Synopsis of Psychiatry Behaviorial Sciences/ Clinical Psychiatry, Eighth Edition, pp. 720-736, New York: Williams & Wilkins, 1998.

Romano SJ, Halmi KJ, Sarkar NP, Koke SC, Lee JS, A placebo-controlled study of fluoxetine in continued treatment of bulimia nervosa after successful acute fluoxetine treatment, 151(9):96–102, American Journal of Psychiatry, 2002.

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