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How is anorexia nervosa diagnosed and treated?

Anorexia is medically known as anorexia nervosa.
• It is an eating disorder.
• It mainly affects mainly girls or women.
• Anorexia can be simply defined as less appetite or sometimes disliking towards the food due to one or the other reason.

How is anorexia nervosa diagnosed?

• Anorexia nervosa can be a difficult disorder to diagnose.
• Individuals with anorexia often attempt to hide the disorder.
• Denial and secrecy frequently accompany other symptoms.
• It is unusual for an individual with anorexia to seek professional help.
• The actual diagnosis is not made until medical complications have developed.
• The individual is often brought to the attention of a professional by family members only after marked weight loss has occurred.
• When anorexics finally come to the attention of the health care professional, they often lack insight into their problem.
• They are severely malnourished.
• They may be unreliable in terms of providing accurate information.
• It is often necessary to obtain information from parents, a spouse, or other family members in order to evaluate the degree of weight loss and extent of the disorder.
• Health professionals will sometimes administer questionnaires for anorexia as part of screening for the disorder.
• Warning signs of developing anorexia or one of the other eating disorders include excessive interest in dieting or thinness.

There are four basic criteria for the diagnosis of anorexia nervosa. They are:
1. The refusal to maintain body weight at or above a minimally normal weight for age and height.
2. An intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat, even though the person is underweight.
3. Self-perception that is grossly distorted.
4. In women who have already begun their menstrual cycle, at least three consecutive periods are missed (amenorrhea).

The DSM-IV-TR further identifies two subtypes of anorexia nervosa:
• In the binge-eating/purging type, the individual regularly engages in binge eating or purging behavior.
• This involves self-induced vomiting.
• It includes the misuse of laxatives, diuretics, or enemas.
• In the restricting type, the individual severely restricts food intake.
• The patient does not regularly engage in the behaviors seen in the binge-eating type.

What is the treatment for anorexia nervosa?

• The overall treatment of anorexia must focus on more than weight gain.
• There are a variety of treatment approaches dependent upon the resources available to the individual.
• Most individuals, however, initially seek outpatient treatment involving psychological as well as medical intervention.
• It is common to engage a multidisciplinary treatment team.
• This team consists of a medical care professional, a dietician or nutritionist, and a mental health care professional.

Different kinds of psychological therapy have been employed to treat people with anorexia. They include:
• Individual therapy
• Cognitive behavior therapy
• Group therapy
• Family therapy
There are no medications that have been identified which can definitively reduce the compulsion to starve oneself.
Some medications that are also used as mood stabilizers to treat schizophrenia may be useful in treating anorexia and they include:
• Olanzapine (Zyprexa, Zydis)
• Risperidone(Risperdal)
• Quetiapine (Seroquel)
– These medications may also help to increase weight.
– They may help to manage some of the emotional symptoms like anxiety and depression that can accompany anorexia.
Some of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant drugs that have been shown to be helpful in weight maintenance after weight has been gained include:
• Fluoxetine (Prozac)
• Sertraline (Zoloft)
• Paroxetine (Paxil)
• Citalopram (Celexa)
• Escitalopram (Lexapro)

Anorexia Nervosa Treatment Manual for Anorexia Nervosa Help Your Teenager Beat an Eating Disorder

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