Health Zone

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia Nervosa

Eating disorders involve significant psychological distress, as well as being associated with serious physical health complications. One of the three major forms of eating disorders is Anorexia Nervosa. Anorexia Nervosa is characterised by a low weight, fear of gaining weight, a powerful desire to be thin, and food restriction. Many people with anorexia see themselves as being overweight even though they are considerable underweight.

Signs & symptoms


To be diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa there are 3 core criteria that must be met:

  • A restrictive diet resulting in significantly low body weight.
  • The person has a strong fear of gaining weight, or becoming fat. They may also engage in behaviour that prevents weight gain, such as excessive exercise.
  • Distorted body image, body weight or shape is over emphasised in self-evaluation, or there is a strong lack of understanding in the seriousness of the low body weight.




Approximately one in 20 Australians has an eating disorder. It affects more females than males, although this difference is less in binge eating disorder. Unfortunately less is known about eating disorders among males.


Main treatments


The primary approach is psychological, the person centred approach that is tailored to the individual is suggested as an effective model for specific treatment to be tailored. This treatment focuses on recovery and looks at the illness in a wide context (e.g., physical and psychological). It involves the person with the eating disorder in all treatment decisions.

Due to the medical implications of the anorexia nervosa, treatment typically involves a team approach with involving both doctors and mental health specialists.