View Full Version : Anorexia vs. Anorexia Nervosa

06-09-2006, 07:17 AM
Hey everyone...

I was just watching an episode of grey's anatomy (<****) where they brought up that a women was anorexic because she lost ************ pounds in a year(ish). Anyways, I was wondering if ya'll think anorexia often turns into anorexia nervosa... and what you all think about the differences between them.

06-09-2006, 08:04 AM
I think just plain anorexia is the lack of eating or weight loss. It can be caused by medical issues that are unrelated to the mental illness.

For example, my cat became deathly ill once and didn't eat for several days. The vet wrote "anorexia" on his form as part of his symptoms....I actually found it funny because my cat is quite portly...For some reason it made me laugh during the whole awful experience.

06-09-2006, 09:00 AM
"Anorexia" is purely a phsyical diagnosis - it's common for many diseases such as cancer and AIDS.
"Anorexia Nervosa" is a psychological diagnosis.

Can people have both? Yes, but I'd have to do some research to see if it's at all common. I know that depression is common among people with a diagnosis of a terminal disease. Ribbon might be able to address this better as a cancer survivor, though her eating disorder preceded that disease.

:dragon Millie

06-09-2006, 09:20 AM
i also think anorexia sometimes turns into anorexia nervosa... i think that's my issue.
but anyways, thanks for replying.

06-09-2006, 09:42 AM
Here are the definitions.....

Anorexia: Lack or loss of appetite that causes significant weight loss.

Anorexia nervosa: an eating disorder featuring the inability to maintain even a minimal body weight, excessive fear of weight gain and significant disturbance in body image. A morbid fear of obesity leads the sufferer to try and limit or reduce their weight by excessive dieting, exercising, vomiting, purging and use of diuretics. Sufferers are typically more than fifteen% below the average weight for their height/sex/age. Typically they have amenorrhoea (if female) or low libido (if male)

06-09-2006, 09:44 AM
:triggermedical anorexia weight loss

Millie's right. I believe that a diagnosis of anorexia nervosa is given when the person has anorexia (medical) and anorexia nervosa (psychological). There isn't a set number or percentage for a medical anorexia and the term really doesn't effect the treatment in cancer. In medical anorexia, people aren't trying to and don't want to lose weight as opposed to anorexia nervosa where weight loss is the goal.

Anorexia is a loss of appetite/weight due to physical conditions. It's not really the same as being nauseous from chemotherapy or drugs for a few days or losing a little, it's a more pervasive appetite and weight loss over an extended period of time. When my friend's cancer spread to her intenstines, she lost her appetite and she couldn't eat. She dropped a lot of weight and even though she was overweight at the time, she didn't want to. She knew it wasn't healthy and she was weak because she couldn't get the nutrients. They were going to do surgery to bypass the cancer so she could eat and gain weight back, but when they opened her up the cancer was too pervasive. They gave her a feeding tube instead and she had that until she died. They have awesome antinausea drugs these days and combined with certain steroids it's given as a prechemo drip. Certain chemo drugs have more side effects than others.

Chemo is systematic, meaning it goes through the blood stream all over the body. It most effects rapidly dividing cells (cancer is rapidly dividing BAD cells) like the hair folicles, inside of the mouth, the stomach lining etc. The brain regulates appetite, although the body also has an effect (like nausea) because it sends signals to the brain. I don't think they know all the ins and outs of how cancer effects medical anorexia.

I had anorexia nervosa before my diagnosis and was in recovery but still restricted some. I was symptom free during the chemo. I gained a little bit of weight (which I needed) during chemo and my oncologist told me about half of people do, while half stay the same or lose a little. I was told from day one that the way to escape nausea is to always have something in my stomach and I was happy to do so. I never vomited from chemo. My oncologist had a patient that was anorexic/bulimic during her chemo and my onc was REALLY fed up that this patient was working against the chemo. I think that patient ended up getting hospitalized so that her ED and the cancer could be addressed at the same time.

I suppose that mindset is the difference between medical anorexia and anorexia nervosa in depression since loss of appetite is a symptom of depression.

06-09-2006, 11:24 AM
:hugon Ribbon :hugoff
Thank you for sharing your store with us. I admire you for your strenght and courage to fight to painful illnesses at the same time. :yay You truly are amazing :bounce

I think anorexia does tend to turn into anorexia nervosa. But I was wondering if anorexia nerovsa could also trun into anorexia? I feel that is what happened in my experience with the ED. I purposely dieted and lost wieght because I had some extra weight on me. Then, after going down to a thin but healthy weight, I was happy and wanted to maintain. But the weight just kept coming off until I ended up in the hopsital severly underweight. Anyone have a similar experience? :wacky

Whats bad is the doctors would never agree. No matter how much I tell most of them that I did not want to lose anymore weight, they never believe me. :ugh

Take care everyone and God BLess! :gimmehug

06-09-2006, 11:29 AM
The word anorexia literally means loss of appetite. Nervosa means nervous. So therefore anorexia nervosa means a loss of appetite for nervous reasons.

Anorexia on it's own is just an appetite loss that can occur during physical illness etc.

I think these problems arise because people shorten anorexia nervosa to just anorexia, but they do not mean the same thing.

In my opinion they are two very different illnesses, and therefore anorexia cannot turn into anorexia nervosa and vice versa.

Anyway, that's just my view!

06-09-2006, 11:55 AM
I think anorexia does tend to turn into anorexia nervosa

Anorexia turns into anorexia nervosa when there are the underlying issues (like unresolved childhood things, low self esteem, lack of assertiveness, inability to recognize feelings, unhealthy relationships etc.) Anorexia and Anorexia Nervosa both starve the brain and impair logical thinking but I would imagine that unless there are some unrecognized and unaddressed underlying issues, anorexia nervosa wouldn't be the outcome.

I suppose it's possible for someone with anorexia nervosa to develop legitimate anorexia that wasn't psychosomatic if the individual developed a medical illness. I guess the difference would be if the individual has a distorted body image and is trying to gain weight, inspite of the medical condition. I still think the primary diagnosis would be Anorexia Nervosa with the medical issues listed on the other axes of the DSM full diagnosis. Simply not having an appetite as a side effect of prolonged self induced starvation, I don't believe, medical Anorexia would be a primary diagnosis.

Speed Racer
06-09-2006, 04:27 PM
i believe that you can have anorexia nervosa without anorexia... i have had periods of time when i was definitely diagnosed with AN but did not lose my appetite. i chose to ignore it.

Shuffleboard Queen
06-09-2006, 07:45 PM

I think your definition is most accurate. I've gone through periods in my childhood of anorexia, of just not wanting to eat, though I never wanted to lose weight. It can accompany depression (being so sad you just don't want to eat, etc) or some medical conditions, like the cancer Ribbon described above.

When I was suffering from anorexia nervosa, I just overrode those starvation signals. I was hungry. I just didn't respond to those signals. In persons with environmental and genetic predispositions to anorexia nervosa, simple medical anorexia can turn into anorexia nervosa. AN was named as such because sufferers typically deny their hunger...hence the name.

Erg. I think it's been a little too long since my pathophysiology class to give a better explanation. Hope this helps!

06-10-2006, 03:00 PM
serafina?? from veggieboards?! :lubdub hey hon! its taurushead. :muhaha
this site is wonderful, i hope it helps you a lot.

06-10-2006, 10:34 PM
ha, yes. :)

nice to see you on here... these boards are really helping me out. :)

06-11-2006, 09:10 AM
I think that you can have both simultaneously, but having a strong AN history should definitely raise concerns when anorexia occurs. About **** weeks ago, I erupted in a severe case of shingles. I can't escape the physical pain despite all the pain medicines I'm on. When its at its worst, all I can do is sleep. I have zero appetite and I'm not sure if its from the pain, the medications, or anorexia nervosa. I don't think its AN, but I am under medical care, a dietician and a pyschologist who are all watching closely. I had gained back to a normal weight and was holding it fine until this came along. I KNOW that right now I look horrible compared to what I looked like before the shingles, but I just don't care about my weight. I don't want to lose, I don't want to gain. I have no fear of gaining weight or eating in front of others. "This" whether its AN or medical anorexia is not the same as what I've had before - but it unfortanately has the same end result (weight loss).

I don't know where it will lead to once the nerves repair and hopefully everything returns to being physically pain free.

Shuffleboard Queen
06-12-2006, 02:06 PM
:hugon Q :hugoff

Sending get well wishes. My dad had shingles a couple of years ago, and he had a bad time of it, too, but is doing well now. Did you get any antiviral cream? Sorry- the infectious disease professional in me is coming out...

Take care.

06-12-2006, 02:56 PM
Thank you Carrie:hugoff

Infectious Disease person :muhaha funny story attached: on one of my follow up appts to the doctor, the receptionist checking me in yelled OUTLOUD towards a backroom where the checkin technician was, "You need to put her in a room that can be thoroughly sanitized afterwards." :funky I turned around to the crowded room of horrified patients and said, "I have the bubonic plague." I couldn't believe the receptionist yelled THAT so loudly, but I took it with a sense of humor. (and no, I DID NOT touch anything including the chairs in the waiting room.). Fortunately, I am no longer contagious....and yes, I was on an anti viral for the first eight days. That helped a lot.

The doctor and I spoke at length today about the difference between anorexia and anorexia nervosa. Everyone is being very guarded and careful. I told him that I know what AN is, and this isn't anything like it. He agreed that the intensity of the pain commonly causes loss of appetite, so his goal is to manage the pain better. He's put me on stronger pain meds as well as a pain patch that I can wear xx hours per day. I think that all of my healthcare providers are scratching their heads trying to figure out how to treat me. He said ordinarily he wouldn't be so concerned, but I'm teetering between the two because of my history and my weight loss is too much for anyone to be comfortable with.

Hopefully the pain meds will work.....however, I can begin to feel the overwhelming loss of control of my body and how it is affecting me pyschologically. If I were most honest, I could probably acknowledge where its going, but not sure that labeling it that way would be positive. I need to wait until I'm better and then see what happens.

06-12-2006, 03:09 PM
:hugon Q :hugoff

Just sending you some hugs. :gimmehug :gimmehug :gimmehug :gimmehug Take care of yourself and get well soon! God BLess! :lubdub

06-13-2006, 10:44 PM
showing my ignorance here...... until i read this i had absolutely no idea there was a difference! wow.... a good read this post. thanks all.