The 2 subtypes of anorexia nervosa are restricting type and binge eating / purging type. A person with this type of anorexia nervosa severely restricts their food intake and is often in very low body weight (below the normal BMI for their age and height).
Individuals with the binge eating / purging type typically have very low body weight because they binge and then use laxatives, diuretics or enemas to get rid of the calories they’ve consumed. This is a dangerous and unhealthy way to lose weight, so it’s important to seek treatment for these behaviors.
Atypical anorexia nervosa is a rare subtype of the disorder in which individuals meet all the criteria for the main disorder, but their body weight is within or above the normal BMI range. They may experience a significant fear of fatness, have significant influence on self-evaluation and exhibit low levels of self-esteem. This is a more severe form of the disease that can be life-threatening.
People with atypical anorexia nervosa also typically have a low body weight and fear of fatness, but are within or above the normal weight range for their age and height. These people can be at risk of serious medical complications because they are losing large amounts of weight rapidly through their extreme eating and weight control behaviors.
What are the signs of anorexia nervosa?
Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that can be life-threatening. It is characterized by a fear of weight gain, a rigid belief that the body must be thin, and a low body weight or body mass index (BMI).
This condition can affect anyone at any time in their lives but it is more common among women and girls. It is often caused by a combination of factors including genetic predisposition, social environment, and personality traits.
Eating disorders are highly treatable with effective treatment and support. Getting early and regular treatment is the best way to ensure a good outcome from recovery, which can involve restoring normal weight and eating habits, as well as addressing emotional and psychological issues related to the disorder.
Behavioral therapies are the most effective treatments for the disorder and may include family therapy, group counseling, or individual psychotherapy. These therapies focus on changing the patient’s thinking and behaviors related to their eating and weight control issues.
Medication can also be used for anorexia nervosa when it is necessary to help restore weight and reduce the symptoms of associated psychiatric illness, such as anxiety. This is usually prescribed after the patient has reached a stable weight and is no longer at risk for serious health complications or death from malnutrition.
A key aspect of the treatment plan for individuals with anorexia nervosa includes a balanced, nutritionally adequate diet to restore healthy weight and improve dietary patterns. Educating patients about the importance of consuming a wide and varied diet, and helping them to overcome fears about foods is essential.
Most people with anorexia nervosa recover from their disorder with effective and comprehensive treatment, but it is difficult to predict how long it will take. However, most people with anorexia nervosa can achieve full recovery, and in many cases, even those who have been living with the disorder for years can recover and enjoy a more fulfilling life.