Eating Disorders Home > Anorexic

Someone who is anorexic has an eating disorder that is characterized by the belief that he or she is fat, even when this person is dangerously thin. This occurs in women more than men, but anyone can develop the disease. Common symptoms include excessive weight loss and compulsive exercising. Treatment for anorexia often includes therapy and nutritional counseling. More severe cases may require hospitalization.

What Is an Anorexic?

People who are anorexic have an eating disorder called anorexia nervosa. A person who is anorexic can literally starve himself or herself to death. An anorexic will eat very little, even though this person is already thin. Anorexics have an intense and overpowering fear of body fat and weight gain, with repeated dieting attempts and excessive weight loss.
An anorexic is often characterized as a perfectionist and overachiever who appears to be in control. In reality, an anorexic suffers from low self-esteem and is overly critical of himself or herself. They are also very concerned about pleasing others.
Anorexia affects from 0.5 to 1 percent of the female adolescent population, with an average age of onset between 14 and 18 years. An estimated 0.5 to 3.7 percent of females suffer from anorexia nervosa in their lifetime.

Symptoms of Anorexia

An anorexic is identified, in part, by:
  • A refusal to eat
  • An intense desire to be thin
  • Repeated dieting attempts
  • Excessive weight loss.
To maintain an abnormally low weight, a person who is anorexic may diet, fast, or over-exercise. This person may often engage in behaviors such as self-induced vomiting or the misuse of laxatives, diuretics, or enemas. An anorexic believes that she or he is overweight even when extremely thin.
Often, a person will start to become anorexic after a stressful life event, such as the beginning of puberty or moving out of the parents' home.
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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