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Anorexia Nervosa

What is Anorexia Nervosa? Anorexia nervosa is a serious medical and mental health condition that can be life-threatening. Anorexia is characterized by an obsessive fear of weight gain and a refusal to maintain a healthy body weight and typically a distorted body image. Sufferers may restrict caloric intake or purge calories consumed through vomiting (also called purging), laxative/diuretic abuse and/or compulsive exercise.

Who gets it?

  • A big majority of anorexia nervosa sufferers are girls and women
  • Anorexia nervosa can also affect men: the last decade has witnessed a significant increase in the numbers of men suffering from it: the current female to mal ratio is 4 to 1 and was 10 to 1 10 years ago
  • Between 0.5–1% of American women suffer from anorexia nervosa.
  • Anorexia nervosa is one of the most common psychiatric diagnoses in young women.
  • Anorexia Nervosa is the deadliest of all mental health disorders: between 5-20% of individuals struggling with the disorder will die from it.
  • Anorexia nervosa typically appears in early to mid-adolescence in women and appears slightly later in men.

What causes it?

Anorexia is a bio-psycho-social illness, meaning that biological, psychological and sociocultural aspects contribute to the development of the illness. Anorexia – or any eating disorder, for that matter – is not a choice.

What are the symptoms?

  • Inadequate food intake leading to a weight that is clearly too low.
  • Intense fear of weight gain, obsession with weight and persistent behavior to prevent weight gain.
  • Self-esteem overly related to body image.
  • Inability to appreciate the severity of the situation.
  • Binge-Eating/Purging Type involves binge eating and/or purging behaviors during the last three months.
  • Restricting Type does not involve binge eating or purging.

Anorexics can have a normal BMI (because of excessive muscle mass or past obesity or starving to maintain a normal weight)
Anorexics can STILL menstruate

Health Consequences of Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa involves self-starvation. The body is denied the essential nutrients it needs to function normally, so it is forced to slow down all of its processes to conserve energy. This “slowing down” can have serious medical consequences:

  • Abnormally slow heart rate and low blood pressure, which mean that the heart muscle is changing. The risk for heart failure rises as heart rate and blood pressure levels sink lower and lower.
  • Reduction of bone density (osteoporosis), which results in dry, brittle bones.
  • Muscle loss and weakness.
  • Severe dehydration, which can result in kidney failure.
  • Fainting, fatigue, and overall weakness.
  • Dry hair and skin, hair loss is common.
  • Growth of a downy layer of hair called lanugo all over the body, including the face, in an effort to keep the body warm.

How is it treated?

Due to the complexity of this condition, anorexia recovery requires comprehensive treatment from an experienced, multidisciplinary treatment team, including medical and psychiatric stabilization, nutritional intervention and psychological support.

At ACPN, our trained multi-disciplinary team provides evidence-based treatments based on Family-Based Therapy (FBT or “The Maudsley Approach”) and Enhanced Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT-E)

With proper treatment, a full and lasting recovery is possible. The ACPN has the only specialized program in the U.A.E. dedicated to the treatment of eating disorders, like anorexia.

Multi Disciplinary Team

Carine el Khazen Hadati
Carine el Khazen Hadati

Clinical Psychologist, Director of ED Program

Dubai

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Maya Fleifel Sidani
Maya Fleifel Sidani

Clinical Psychologist

Dubai

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Hala Abu Taha
Hala Abu Taha

Dietitian

Abu Dhabi and Dubai

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Dr. George Sawers
Dr. George Sawers

General Practitioner

Abu Dhabi

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Dr. Najwan Al-Roubaiy
Dr. Najwan Al-Roubaiy

Psychologist, Acting Head of Psychology Team - Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi

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Dr. Junaid Hassim
Dr. Junaid Hassim

Clinical Psychologist

Abu Dhabi

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Dr. Samra Tahir
Dr. Samra Tahir

Clinical Psychologist

Abu Dhabi

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Dr. Samer Makhoul
Dr. Samer Makhoul

Consultant Psychiatrist, Head of Psychiatry Department

Dubai and Abu Dhabi

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Dr. Nasser El Hindy
Dr. Nasser El Hindy

Consultant Psychiatrist, Medical Director

Dubai

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