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Anorexia Nervosa Treatment

Anorexia nervosa (AN) is a disorder in which individuals exhibit significant weight loss and extreme restrictions in their food intake. Nationally, it is estimated that 1-2.2% of the population meet criteria for anorexia nervosa and on Long Island it can be estimated that there are over 6,300 cases in Nassau and Suffolk counties. Specific criteria for the diagnosis of anorexia nervosa includes:

  • Weight loss and refusal to maintain what is considered a normal body weight for an individual’s age and height (minimally 85% of expected normal weight) or a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 18 or below. A BMI below 15 is considered “extreme” anorexia.
  • Individuals have an intense fear of weight gain despite being less than their expected weight and/or denial of the seriousness of their low body weight.
  • There is a disturbance in the way one perceives their body image and appearance and/or an excessive emphasis that is placed on body weight/shape with self-evaluation.
  • The prior edition of the DSM included criteria of the absence of 3 consecutive menstrual cycles in females and without the use of hormone replacement including birth control pills. This criteria for diagnosis was removed in the DSM-V.

Additionally, Anorexia Nervosa is specified into two types:

  1. Restricting Type: Categorized as severe restriction of food intake with the absence of binge-eating or purging behaviors and weight loss is primarily accomplished through dieting, fasting, and/or excessive exercise.
  2. Binge/Purge Type: Categorized as engaging in binge eating or purging behavior while also exhibiting behaviors meeting criteria for anorexia nervosa. Purging is characterized as a way to eliminate food from your body either through self-induced vomiting, or through laxatives, diuretics, or enemas.