Anorexia Nervosa occurs when an adolescent refuses to maintain body weight at or above a minimal normal weight for age and height. The weight loss is usually self-imposed and is usually less than 85% of expected weight. The condition occurs most frequently in females, however, it can occur in males. Generally, the teenager has an intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat even though underweight. Self evaluation of body weight and shape may be distorted and there may be denial of the potential health hazards caused by the low body weight.

Physical symptoms can include:

  • absence of regular menstrual cycles
  • dry skin
  • low pulse rate, and
  • low blood pressure
Behavioral changes commonly occur such as:
  • social withdrawal
  • irritability
  • moodiness, and
  • depression
Without treatment, this disorder can become chronic and with severe starvation, some teenagers may die.

For additional information see the following Facts for Families:
#2 - Teenagers with Eating Disorders