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Anorexia nervosa in adults: Clinical features, course of illness, assessment, and diagnosis

Diane Klein, MD
Evelyn Attia, MD
Section Editor
Joel Yager, MD
Deputy Editor
David Solomon, MD


Anorexia nervosa is characterized by an abnormally low body weight, intense fear of gaining weight, and distorted perception of body weight and shape [1]. The disorder has been recognized for hundreds of years across different cultures [2]. However, the term “anorexia” is a misnomer because patients often retain their appetite [3].

This topic reviews the clinical features, comorbid psychopathology, course of illness, assessment, diagnosis, and differential diagnosis of anorexia nervosa. The epidemiology, potential medical complications, evaluation for detecting medical complications, and treatment of anorexia nervosa are discussed separately, as is the refeeding syndrome as a complication of treatment.

(See "Eating disorders: Overview of epidemiology, clinical features, and diagnosis".)

(See "Anorexia nervosa in adults and adolescents: Medical complications and their management".)

(See "Anorexia nervosa in adults: Evaluation for medical complications and criteria for hospitalization to manage these complications".)

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: May 27, 2017.
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