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What is Anorexia Nervosa?

Anorexia Nervosa (AN) is a feeding and eating disorder. This disorder causes people to become preoccupied with their weight, food, and body image. People who suffer from AN tend to have a distorted view of their bodies and may view themselves as overweight despite often being underweight. Because of these distortions, people who suffer from AN go to lengths to prevent weight gain and promote weight loss. These behaviors may include food restriction/starvation, compulsive exercise, and purging. In many cases, AN has been correlated with the individual’s sense of powerlessness and the false sense of control that AN provides. AN is a severe mental health disorder that requires treatment as soon as possible. It is estimated that around 24 million people in the U.S. suffer from an eating disorder. Despite the common assumption that only women suffer from AN and other eating disorders, these disorders can affect individuals of any gender and other identities. 

How does Anorexia Nervosa affect people? 

The clinical symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa (AN) are weight loss, below-average weight, and distorted body image. However, not all individuals who suffer from AN have a below-normal weight. Other common symptoms include irritability, mood swings, fatigue, dehydration, depression, and social isolation. Further, AN can lead to serious health side effects depending on the severity of the disorder. For example, in some cases, AN can lead to kidney failure due to dehydration, anemia, bone density loss, low blood pressure, heart conditions, and even death. AN is known to be the deadliest mental health disorder because the symptoms of the disorder affect the body directly; people who suffer from AN (or another eating disorder) may also be at risk of dying by suicide. It is estimated that about 10,200 people die yearly from an eating disorder.

How do people overcome Anorexia Nervosa?

Treatment for Anorexia Nervosa (AN) can be tricky because people with AN (or another eating disorder) often hide their eating habits and tend not to disclose their thoughts to loved ones. AN can be treated effectively with a good support team. This might include a medical provider to advise you with physical symptoms, nutrition counseling to help you make healthier nutrition choices, therapy to help you process your emotions and challenge your body image distortions, and loved ones who are there for you to support you. In severe cases, intensive outpatient or even inpatient services may be necessary. If you or someone you know suffers from AN or another eating disorder, contact the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) for support. They can be reached at (800) 931-2237 (call or text) or by chat at:

This page is also part of the Roamers Therapy Glossary; a collection of mental-health related definitions that are written by our therapists.

While our offices are currently located at the South Loop neighborhood of Downtown Chicago, Illinois, we also welcome and serve clients for online therapy from anywhere in Illinois and Washington, D.C. Clients from the Chicagoland area may choose in-office or online therapy and usually commute from surrounding areas such as River North, West Loop, Gold Coast, Old Town, Lincoln Park, Lake View, Rogers Park, Logan Square, Pilsen, Bridgeport, Little Village, Bronzeville, South Shore, Hyde Park, Back of the Yards, Wicker Park, Bucktown and many more. You can visit our contact page to access detailed information on our office location.