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Anorexia Nervosa


Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder. You weigh much less than your normal body weight should be. You lose weight by eating very little food, vomiting to avoid weight gain, and exercising too much. The weight loss is not related to another medical condition.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

Psychiatric assessment:

Caregivers will ask if you have a history of psychological trauma, such as physical, sexual, or mental abuse. They will ask if you were given the care that you needed. Caregivers will ask you if you have been a victim of a crime or natural disaster, or if you have a serious injury or disease. They will ask you if you have seen other people being harmed, such as in combat. You will be asked if you drink alcohol or use drugs at present or in the past. Caregivers will ask you if you want to hurt or kill yourself or others. How you answer these questions can help caregivers decide on treatment. To help during treatment, caregivers will ask you about such things as how you feel about it and your hobbies and goals. Caregivers will also ask you about the people in your life who support you.


is continuous monitoring of your heart rhythm. Sticky pads placed on your skin connect to an EKG machine that records your heart rhythm.

Vital signs:

Caregivers will check your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and temperature. They will also ask about your pain. These vital signs give caregivers information about your current health.


  • Blood tests: You may need blood taken to give caregivers information about how your body is working. The blood may be taken from your hand, arm, or IV.
  • Bone density exam: This a picture of your bones. Healthcare providers will check for bone loss that may occur if anorexia stops your monthly period.
  • Chest x-ray: This is a picture of your heart and lungs. Healthcare providers may do an x-ray to check for a lung infection.


  • Fluids and nutrition:
    • An IV is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.
    • TPN: TPN stands for total parenteral nutrition. It is also called hyperalimentation. It provides your body with nutrition such as protein, sugar, vitamins, minerals, and sometimes fat (lipids). TPN is used when you have problems with eating or digesting food. TPN is usually put into your body through a large IV catheter, such as a central line. You may need TPN for several days or longer.
    • Nasogastric tube feeding: A nasogastric (NG) tube is put into your nose and down into your stomach. Liquid food may be given through your NG tube to improve your nutrition.
  • Therapy:
    • Cognitive behavioral therapy: This is also called CBT. You and a therapist will work together to learn the reasons you are unhappy with your body. The therapist will work with you to change your behaviors and decrease your negative feelings about food and your weight.
    • Group or family therapy: Group therapy is a meeting you have with other people who also have anorexia nervosa. Family therapy is a meeting you have with healthcare providers and your family members. Group and family meetings are a time when you talk with others about ways to cope with anorexia nervosa.


Medicines may be given in addition to cognitive and nutrition therapies.

  • Antianxiety: This medicine decreases anxiety and helps you feel calm and relaxed.
  • Anticonvulsants: This medicine controls seizures and decreases violent behavior, aggression, or irritability. This medicine may help control your mood swings.
  • Antidepressants: This medicine decreases or prevents the symptoms of depression. People who have anorexia are often also depressed.
  • Mood stabilizers: This medicine controls mood changes.
  • Vitamin and mineral supplements: You may need to take multivitamins and a mineral supplement, such as potassium, if you become malnourished. Ask your healthcare provider which vitamins and minerals are right for you.


You are at risk for dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. You can have abnormal heartbeats. Repeated vomiting can damage your throat and stomach. Your bones may become weak and lead to bone pain and fractures. You can develop life-threatening heart or kidney problems.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.