Diagnosis of anorexia nervosa
According to the American Psychiatric Association, a person diagnosed as anorectic must have the following symptoms:
- refusal to maintain weight that's over the lowest weight considered normal for age and height
- intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat, even though underweight
- distorted body image in women
- three consecutive missed menstrual periods without pregnancy.
In diagnosing anorexia nervosa, your doctor will do a physical exam and take medical history. Questions will focus on eating and other behavior patterns, such as extreme preoccupation with low calorie food, bingeing and/or purging, taking laxatives, overexercising, and denial of any problem at all. Some medical tests your doctor may do are laboratory blood tests for anemia and electrolyte imbalance.
Once anorexia nervosa is diagnosed, treatment should begin immediately. Treatment is complex and usually involves a team of health care professionals, specifically a medical doctor, a nutritionist, and a psychotherapist.
Adapted from Food and Drug Administration, 3/00
Last reviewed March 2000 by
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