Medications

Ritalin at 75: What does the future hold?

Seventy-five years ago, a new stimulant drug with the generic name of methylphenidate was born in the Swiss lab of chemical company Ciba. Like many drugs, its therapeutic purpose was unclear. But these were the days a scientist ...

Psychology & Psychiatry

Genetic study reveals metabolic origins of anorexia

A global study, led by researchers at King's College London and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, suggests that anorexia nervosa is at least partly a metabolic disorder, and not purely psychiatric as previously ...

Neuroscience

These neurons affect how much you do, or don't, want to eat

Like a symphony, multiple brain regions work in concert to regulate the need to eat. University of Arizona researchers believe they have identified a symphony conductor—a brain region that regulates appetite suppression ...

Psychology & Psychiatry

How many people have eating disorders?

Last week, federal health minister Greg Hunt announced that more than 60,000 Australians will be asked about their mental health and well-being as part of the Intergenerational Health and Mental Health Study.

Pediatrics

How to tell if your teen is depressed

Teen depression is a serious mental health problem that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest in activities. It affects how your teenager thinks, feels and behaves, and it can cause emotional, functional ...

Pediatrics

Health cautions for young male athletes

(HealthDay)—Exercise has many health benefits for boys, ranging from a lower chance of obesity to improved self-esteem. It may also reduce risk-taking behaviors. However, some sports come with cautions, especially those ...

Psychology & Psychiatry

Early warning signs of eating disorder revealed

Early warning signs that someone may have an eating disorder have been revealed in a large-scale data study conducted by Swansea University researchers.

Psychology & Psychiatry

Antipsychotic drug may be helpful treatment for anorexia nervosa

Low doses of a commonly used atypical antipsychotic drug improved survival in a mouse model of anorexia nervosa, University of Chicago researchers report this month. The result offers promise for a common and occasionally ...

Psychology & Psychiatry

Anorexia nervosa patients prefer underweight bodies

An interdisciplinary team of scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, the University of Tübingen and the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems placed test persons in front of their virtual ...

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Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by an obsessive fear of gaining weight. The terms anorexia nervosa and anorexia are often used interchangeably, however anorexia is simply a medical term for lack of appetite. Anorexia nervosa has many complicated implications and may be thought of as a lifelong illness that may never be truly cured, but only managed over time.

Anorexia nervosa is often coupled with a distorted self image which may be maintained by various cognitive biases that alter how the affected individual evaluates and thinks about her or his body, food and eating. Persons with anorexia nervosa continue to feel hunger, but deny themselves all but very small quantities of food. The average caloric intake of a person with anorexia nervosa is 600–800 calories per day, but extreme cases of complete self-starvation are known. It is a serious mental illness with a high incidence of comorbidity and the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder.

Anorexia most often has its onset in adolescence and is most prevalent among adolescent girls. However, more recent studies show that the onset age of anorexia decreased from an average of 13 to 17 years of age to 9 to 12. While it can affect men and women of any age, race, and socioeconomic and cultural background, Anorexia nervosa occurs in females 10 times more than in males. While anorexia nervosa is quite commonly (in lay circles) believed to be a woman 's illness, it should not be forgotten than ten per cent of people with anorexia nervosa are male.

The term anorexia nervosa was established in 1873 by Sir William Gull, one of Queen Victoria's personal physicians. The term is of Greek origin: an- (ἀν-, prefix denoting negation) and orexis (ὄρεξις, "appetite"), thus meaning a lack of desire to eat. However, while the term "anorexia nervosa" literally means "neurotic loss of appetite" the literal meaning of the term is somewhat misleading. Many anorexics do enjoy eating and have certainly not lost their appetite as the term "loss of appetite" is normally understood; it is better to regard anorexia nervosa as a self-punitive addiction to fasting, rather than a literal loss of appetite.

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