Anorexia or Loss of Appetite

Abdomen | General Practice | Anorexia or Loss of Appetite (Symptom)


Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder. It is serious and can be a life-threatening condition. It is characterized by intentional weight loss of 15% or more of a person's normal body weight. Occasionally it can become chronic.

Other important characteristics of this disorder include a high fear of getting fat, a distorted body image, denial of the seriousness of the illness, and amenorrhea (absence of at least three consecutive menstrual cycles when they are expected to occur).

The extreme dieting and weight loss of anorexia can lead to a potentially fatal degree of malnutrition. Other possible complications of anorexia include heart-rhythm disturbances, digestive abnormalities, bone density loss, anemia, and hormonal and electrolyte imbalances.


Like all eating disorders, anorexia nervosa tends to occur in pre- or post-puberty, but can develop at any time throughout the lifespan. Anorexia nervosa predominantly affects adolescent girls and young adult women, although it also occurs in boys, men, older women and younger girls.

One reason in developing anorexia is tendency to achieve an ‘ideal figure’. Certain personality traits common in persons with anorexia nervosa are perfectionism, neuroticism (anxiety-proneness), low self-esteem, and social isolation, which usually occur after the behavior associated with anorexia nervosa begins.

Diagnosis and Treatment

The treatment of anorexia must focus on more than just weight gain and often involves a combination of individual, group, and family psychotherapies in addition to nutritional counseling.