Anorexia nervosa is a potentially life-threatening eating disorder characterized by the inability to maintain a minimally normal weight, a devastating fear of weight gain, relentless dietary habits that prevent weight gain, and a disturbance in the way in which body weight and shape are perceived.
Anorexia nervosa may be divided into 2 subtypes:
-Restricting, in which severe limitation of food intake is the primary means to weight loss.
-Binge-eating/purging type, in which there are periods of food intake that are compensated by self-induced vomiting, laxative or diuretic abuse, and/or excessive exercise.
Patients with anorexia nervosa often display such traits as a desire for perfection and academic success, a lack of age-appropriate sexual activity, and a denial of hunger in the face of starvation. Psychiatric characteristics include excessive dependency, developmental immaturity, social isolation, obsessive-compulsive behavior, and constriction of affect.