Anorexia nervosa is a serious mental health condition with symptoms that vary based on the length and severity of the condition. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fifth Edition, the following are present in all diagnosed cases.
- Restriction of energy intake, resulting in significantly low body weight
- Intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat (despite having a significantly low body weight)
- Disturbance in the experience of body weight or shape; undue influence of weight or shape on self-evaluation, or denial of the seriousness of low body weight
The symptoms of anorexia nervosa can be severe and, in some cases, potentially deadly. Without treatment, between 5-20% of individuals with anorexia nervosa will die from the condition. With eating disorder treatment, this number decreases to 2-3%. In fact, anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any mental health condition. Typically, anorexia nervosa appears in early to mid-adolescence. It also disproportionately affects women.