Why Anorexia Is Viewed As An Eating Disorder?

Anorexia nervosa, a formidable eating disorder, is characterized by a complex interplay of psychological, emotional, and behavioral factors that collectively contribute to its classification within the realm of eating disorders. At its core, anorexia involves severe food restriction, an intense fear of weight gain, and a distorted body image that compels individuals to pursue an unattainable ideal of thinness. The intricate tapestry of this mental health condition extends beyond the physical act of not consuming enough food; it delves into the intricate psychology surrounding body image perceptions and societal influences that perpetuate these harmful behaviors. By understanding anorexia as an eating disorder, we gain insight into the unique challenges faced by those affected, paving the way for targeted interventions and compassionate support tailored to address the multifaceted nature of this condition.

Why Anorexia Is Viewed As An Eating Disorder?

Anorexia nervosa is viewed as an eating disorder due to the distinctive and concerning patterns of behavior related to food consumption, body image, and weight control exhibited by individuals diagnosed with this condition. It is recognized as a mental health disorder characterized by an intense fear of gaining weight, a distorted body image, and extreme efforts to maintain a low body weight.

Explain Why Anorexia Is Viewed As An Eating Disorder

Anorexia, at its core, disrupts the normal and healthy relationship individuals have with food and their bodies. Key factors that contribute to anorexia nervosa being classified as an eating disorder include:

Restricted Food Intake

Individuals with anorexia nervosa often engage in severe food restriction, leading to a significant decrease in calorie intake. They may limit the types and amounts of food they consume, resulting in malnutrition and, in severe cases, life-threatening complications.

Intense Fear of Weight Gain

Anorexia is marked by an irrational and intense fear of gaining weight or becoming overweight. This fear is often disproportionate to the person’s actual body weight and may persist even when they are underweight.

Body Image Distortion

People with anorexia nervosa have a distorted perception of their body size and shape. They may perceive themselves as overweight, even when objectively underweight. This distorted body image contributes to their relentless pursuit of thinness.

Excessive Exercise

Many individuals with anorexia engage in compulsive and excessive exercise as a means to burn calories and control weight. This behavior is driven by the desire to maintain or achieve an extremely low body weight.

Denial of the Severity of Low Weight

Individuals with anorexia nervosa may not recognize the severity of their low body weight or the associated health risks. Denial of the medical consequences is a common aspect of the disorder.

Physical and Psychological Consequences

Anorexia nervosa has severe physical and psychological consequences, including nutritional deficiencies, electrolyte imbalances, cardiovascular issues, hormonal disruptions, and mental health challenges such as anxiety and depression.

Diagnostic Criteria

Anorexia nervosa is recognized and classified as an eating disorder in diagnostic manuals such as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). The DSM-5 outlines specific criteria, including weight loss, fear of weight gain, and distorted body image, for diagnosing anorexia.

The classification of anorexia nervosa as an eating disorder underscores the complex interplay between psychological, behavioral, and physical factors that characterize the condition. Recognizing anorexia as a distinct eating disorder helps guide appropriate treatment and intervention strategies to address the multifaceted nature of the disorder.


What separates anorexia from simply wanting to be thin?

Anorexia goes far beyond wanting to be thin. It involves unhealthy and extreme behaviors like severely restricting food intake, even when dangerously underweight. Additionally, it’s accompanied by a distorted body image, where individuals see themselves as overweight even when objectively thin. This leads to obsessive thinking, anxiety, and a loss of control over their lives.

Why is it considered a mental illness?

Anorexia isn’t just about food – it’s a complex mental illness with biological, psychological, and social factors contributing to it. It often co-occurs with other mental health issues like anxiety, depression, and OCD. These underlying conditions influence eating behaviors and vice versa, creating a vicious cycle.

What are the physical consequences of anorexia?

Severe malnutrition from calorie restriction can lead to serious health problems. These include muscle loss, heart problems, bone density loss, electrolyte imbalances, and even organ failure in extreme cases.

Is there treatment for anorexia?

Yes, there are various treatment options available for anorexia, including individual therapy, family therapy, nutritional counseling, and medication. Early intervention and comprehensive treatment are crucial for recovery.

What can I do if I think someone has anorexia?

Offer empathy, support, and encouragement. Encourage them to seek professional help, and provide resources like hotlines or support groups. Remember, you can’t force someone to recover, but your support can make a significant difference.

Where can I find more information?

Many organizations offer support and information about eating disorders, including:

Remember, anorexia is a serious mental illness, and professional help is crucial for recovery. Don’t hesitate to reach out for support if you or someone you know is struggling.


Anorexia deserves recognition as a complex and impactful mental illness, far from a simple desire for thinness. Understanding the key distinctions – the obsessive control, distorted body image, and significant physical and mental consequences – dismantles misconceptions and promotes awareness. Remember, recovery is possible with comprehensive treatment and support. If you or someone you know is struggling, don’t hesitate to reach out to the mentioned resources. It’s crucial to remember that you’re not alone, and seeking help is a courageous step towards a healthier future.

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