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Review
. 2002 Dec;44(4):301-11.

Anorexia Nervosa. A Review

Affiliations
  • PMID: 12434112
Review

Anorexia Nervosa. A Review

M B Tamburrino et al. Panminerva Med. .

Abstract

Anorexia nervosa is an illness characterized by significant weight loss, amenorrhea, distorted body image and a relentless pursuit of thinness. The disorder affects primarily young women between the ages of 13 and 20, and is more commonly seen in westernized countries. Although the incidence is relatively rare, affecting approximately 0.5 to 1.0% of younger women in the United States, medical complications can be severe, and long-term mortality rates may approach 20%. Recent studies indicate that subclinical eating disorders occur in at least 5% of women and up to 1/3 of females among special populations such as athletes and insulin-dependent diabetics. The etiology of eating disorders is not known, but there are psychosocial and biological influences. Malnutrition associated with anorexia nervosa can affect nearly every organ system in the body, with cardiac complications responsible for 50% of the deaths in anorexia nervosa. More recent brain studies suggest that grey matter volume deficits may persist after refeeding. Subclinical anorexia nervosa in athletes is associated with premature fractures and long-term osteopenia. Early complications, such as retinopathy, are increasingly seen in female diabetics who have disordered eating patterns. Well-designed empirical trials of treatment with psychotherapy and psychopharmacology are very limited. There is some evidence that family therapy may be more effective than individual therapy in younger anorectics who have been ill less than 3 years. The most promising finding in medication treatment suggests that fluoxetine may help prevent relapse in the weight restored anorectic.

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