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What is anorexia nervosa?

Anorexia nervosa, also known as just anorexia, is an eating disorder. This disorder makes you obsess about your weight and food. If you have this problem, you may have a warped body image. You may see yourself as fat even though you have a very low body weight.

With anorexia, you may use unusual eating habits to cope with stress, anxiety, and low self-esteem. Limiting food may give you a sense of control over your life.

This problem affects more women than men. It often starts during the teenage years. The number of young women between the ages of 15 to 19 who have anorexia nervosa has increased every 10 years since 1930.

What causes anorexia nervosa?

Experts don’t know what causes anorexia. It often begins as regular dieting. Over time it can lead to extreme and unhealthy weight loss. You may use extreme dieting and food limiting tricks due to fear of getting fat.

Anorexia has two subtypes:

What are the risk factors for anorexia nervosa?

A person with anorexia is more likely to come from a family with a history of certain health problems. These include weight problems, physical illness, and mental health problems. Mental health problems may include depression and substance use disorder.

Other things that may play a role in anorexia are:

You may also be at risk if you take part in certain sports and activities that focus on body shape and size. These include:

What are the symptoms of anorexia nervosa?

Anorexia can cause a variety of symptoms. They may be related to food or weight. They may be physical or emotional.

Food or weight-related symptoms can include:

Physical symptoms can include:

Emotional symptoms can include:

How is anorexia nervosa diagnosed?

When you have anorexia, you may try to hide your problem from others. Over time, family members, teachers, and coaches may start to worry about your weight and behavior. Early treatment can help prevent serious health problems. Your healthcare provider will ask you about your medical history. He or she will give you a physical exam. Your healthcare provider may advise psychological testing. Talking with family members and other concerned adults can also help.

How is anorexia nervosa treated?

Treatment for anorexia can depend on your age, overall health, medical history, symptoms, and other factors. Urgent medical care may be needed for physical problems. Nutrition counseling can help you learn how to make healthy food choices. It can also help bring you back to a healthy weight.

Therapy can help you learn how to deal with emotions. It can also help you improve your coping skills and adopt healthy habits. Therapy can be done one-on-one, with your family, or with a group. Some medicines can also help to treat mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.

What are the complications of anorexia nervosa?

Anorexia is very harmful on the body, and can lead to serious problems such as:

Can anorexia nervosa be prevented?

Experts don't know how to prevent anorexia nervosa. It may help if family members have healthy attitudes and actions around weight, food, exercise, and appearance. Adults can help children and teens build self-esteem in various ways. This includes academics, hobbies, and volunteer work. Focus on activities that aren't related to the way a person looks.

Living with anorexia nervosa

If you have anorexia, talk with your healthcare provider. You can recover from anorexia and get back your health. To do this you will need to follow a full treatment plan. During recovery, you will need to not weigh yourself all the time. You will also need to not spend a lot of time alone. It's also important to learn and avoid things that that lead to your anorexic behaviors. Dietary supplements will help make sure you get enough nourishment. Relaxation methods, such as yoga, may also help ease symptoms.

Key points about anorexia nervosa

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Anorexia Nervosa in Children

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2023 ICD-10-CM Diagnosis Code F50.01

anorexia nervosa code

Anorexia nervosa, restricting type

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ICD-10-CM Code for Anorexia nervosa F50.0

Icd-10 code f50.0 for anorexia nervosa is a medical classification as listed by who under the range - mental, behavioral and neurodevelopmental disorders ., subscribe to codify by aapc and get the code details in a flash., official long descriptor.

Excludes1: anorexia NOS ( R63.0 ) feeding problems of newborn ( P92 .-) polyphagia ( R63.2 )

Excludes2: feeding difficulties ( R63.3 ) feeding disorder in infancy or childhood ( F98.2 -)

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Anorexia Nervosa DSM-5 307.1 (F50.01) (F50.02)

Anorexia Nervosa DSM-5 307.1 (F50.01) (F50.02)

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is a DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th ed.) diagnosis assigned to individuals who become preoccupied with maintaining a low body weight. A serious psychological disorder, anorexia nervosa is characterized by abnormal attitudes towards food that affect the sufferer’s behavior and eating habits, often with physical, psychological and social consequences.


Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder motivated by the desire to maintain as low a body weight as possible. Sufferers will often restrict their food intake or even starve themselves completely to prevent weight gain, otherwise they may exercise excessively.

The disorder usually stems from a fear of gaining weight or becoming overweight but is often more complex in terms of causation. Eating disorders may be associated with a range of issues, from biological predisposition or environmental pressures to be slim, to a specific event that triggered the onset of the condition.

Estimated to affect young women more often than males, anorexia nervosa is diagnosed in approximately 0.4 per cent of young females each year. The disorder also affects men but less is known about the prevalence of anorexia nervosa among males. However, the condition is thought to affect women and men at a ratio of 10:1.

The symptoms of anorexia nervosa may be difficult to identify, as sufferers often go to great lengths to hide signs of their condition. Symptoms of anorexia nervosa include:

Other symptoms may not be obvious at first, instead developing over time. These include:

Diagnostic criteria for anorexia nervosa

For anorexia nervosa to be diagnosed, a number of criteria need to be met. There are three specific features of the disorder, namely:

There are a number of additional features that support diagnosis: individuals suffering from the condition may appear seriously underweight, report symptoms such as depression, withdrawal and insomnia, and display obsessive compulsive tendencies.

Laboratory tests may also be helpful in diagnosing anorexia nervosa - abnormalities in blood serum chemistry, decreased levels of white blood cells, mild anemia, reduced levels of thyroid hormones, low bone density and a slowed heart rate may all support a diagnosis of anorexia nervosa (American Psychiatric Association 2013).

Subtypes of Anorexia Nervosa

Individuals with anorexia nervosa may be split into two subtypes, depending on how their condition presents. Sufferers usually fall into either the restrictive group or the binge-eating/purging subtype, although overlaps are common.

Sufferers who use dieting, fasting and/or excessive exercise to achieve their weight loss goals are classed as restrictive, while those who will overindulge and then purge their bodies of food through vomiting or misuse of laxatives fall into the binge-eating/purging subtype.

Because the two types may overlap, or the individual may not recognize that they are unwell, clinicians will often use information from family members or other sources to establish the person’s history of weight loss and features of their illness (American Psychiatric Association 2013).

Causes of Anorexia

The causes of anorexia nervosa are unclear but are often attributed to a variety of factors, often psychological, biological or environmental - or even a combination of the three.

Psychological Causes - Anorexia nervosa sufferers may display the following traits:

Environmental Causes of Anorexia

The world around individuals and their experiences can also be a factor in the development of anorexia nervosa:

Biological causes

Some biological and temperamental factors are also associated with the development of anorexia nervosa, including those mentioned in the list above. (NHS 2016b, American Psychiatric Association 2013)

Living with Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is thought to affect one in every 200 American women - figures concerning men are less reliable but some statistics suggest that up to 10 million men in the USA will suffer from an eating disorder at some point in their lives (National Eating Disorders Association, 2016).

Commonly beginning during puberty or in young adulthood, anorexia nervosa is a complex disorder that manifests in varied formats for sufferers. Some individuals, especially younger sufferers, will display atypical symptoms, while older people are more likely to show longstanding clinical signs.

Individuals living with anorexia nervosa may try to hide their illness and many will not seek help independently. Several years of treatment may be necessary to make a full recovery from anorexia nervosa and relapses are common. Without treatment, anorexia can cause other serious problems and is a leading cause of mental health-related deaths (NHS 2016a).

Even with treatment, about half of sufferers will continue to experience problems with food. Some individuals will find that their weight fluctuates; others experience anorexia nervosa as a chronic condition. However, some individuals may recover completely after a single episode (American Psychiatric Association 2013).

Treatment for Anorexia Nervosa

Although the causes of anorexia nervosa are not always clear, the condition can be treated in ways that reflect the needs of each individual. Treatment plans may be drawn up to include psychotherapy, medical care and monitoring, medication or nutritional counseling. Sufferers may also be required to keep a food diary to become more aware of their triggers.


Therapy may be prescribed for individuals suffering from anorexia nervosa, either on a direct one-to-one basis or in a family group. A specific type of therapy commonly offered to sufferers is cognitive behavioral therapy, which helps individuals recognize that their thinking patterns may be unhelpful or distorted, thus helping them to change their belief systems over time. Family-based therapy called the Maudsley approach is an alternative, in which parents take responsibility for feeding their adolescent children who suffer from anorexia.

Eating disorders are often co-occurring with other illness, such as depression or anxiety, in which case medication may be prescribed to alleviate symptoms of one disorder with the aim of improving the person’s overall wellbeing. Anorexia nervosa co-occurring with other disorders may be treated with antidepressants, mood stabilizers or antipsychotic medication (National Institute of Mental Health (2016). Two of the main types of medication prescribed for anorexia sufferers are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, which are used to treat depression, and olanzapine, which is used to treat feelings of anxiety (NHS 2016c).

Eating disorders like anorexia nervosa can have serious health consequences - the sooner help is sought, the sooner recovery can begin. At this point, the prospects for long-term recovery are good for many sufferers, with treatment having the potential to help individuals regain control over their eating habits for a healthier, happier future.

NHS (2016a) Anorexia nervosa: Introduction Date Accessed: 07/06/2017

American Psychiatric Association (2013) Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.

National Institute of Mental Health (2016) Eating Disorders Date accessed: 07/06/2017.

NHS (2016b) Anorexia nervosa: Causes Date accessed: 07/06/2017.

National Eating Disorders Association (2016) Research on males and Eating Disorders Date accessed: 07/06/2017.

NHS (2016c) Anorexia nervosa: Treatment Date accessed: 07/06/2017.

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Anorexia nervosa f50.0, view icd-10 tree.

Chapter 5 - Mental, Behavioral and Neurodevelopmental disorders (F01-F99) » Behavioral syndromes associated with physiological disturbances and physical factors (F50-F59) » Anorexia nervosa (F50.0)

ICD-10 Subcodes (3)

F50.00 - Anorexia nervosa, unspecified  

F50.01 - Anorexia nervosa, restricting type  

F50.02 - Anorexia nervosa, binge eating/purging type  

Related MeSH Terms

Anorexia Nervosa D000856

1 indication for 38 drugs (30 approved, 8 experimental)

Psychiatry and Psychology [F] » Mental Disorders [F03] » Feeding and Eating Disorders » Anorexia Nervosa

An eating disorder that is characterized by the lack or loss of APPETITE , known as ANOREXIA . Other features include excess fear of becoming OVERWEIGHT ; BODY IMAGE disturbance; significant WEIGHT LOSS ; refusal to maintain minimal normal weight; and AMENORRHEA . This disorder occurs most frequently in adolescent females. (APA, Thesaurus of Psychological Index Terms, 1994)   MeSH

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F50.01: Anorexia nervosa, active type

You have an eating disorder called anorexia nervosa..

You are anorexic. One’s physical feeling is altered when one has anorexia. One pays great attention to how many calories the food has. With anorexia, the amount of food eaten is often well below the healthy daily calorific intake. It also involves avoiding food or vomiting it back up. Weight can also be reduced by excessive physical activity or using drugs such as appetite suppressants or laxatives. Anorexia leads to extreme weight loss.

With anorexia, one may have other physical symptoms too. For example, the body’s messenger system may be changed. This can stop women from having menstrual periods. Men can become impotent. The person’s hair may also fall out and their pulse may slow down. When children or adolescents are anorexic, growth disorders may occur.

The Body Mass Index helps to identify anorexia. The Body Mass Index can be calculated by dividing the body weight by the square of the person’s height in meters. If the Body Mass Index is below a certain value, it may indicate anorexia.

Additional indicator

On medical documents, the ICD code is often appended by letters that indicate the diagnostic certainty or the affected side of the body.

This information is not intended for self-diagnosis and does not replace professional medical advice from a doctor. If you find an ICD code on a personal medical document, please also note the additional indicator used for diagnostic confidence. Your doctor will assist you with any health-related questions and explain the ICD diagnosis code to you in a direct consultation if necessary.

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In outpatient care, the ICD code on medical documents is always appended with a diagnostic confidence indicator (A, G, V or Z): A (excluded diagnosis), G (confirmed diagnosis), V (tentative diagnosis) and Z (condition after a confirmed diagnosis).

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06 Mental, behavioural or neurodevelopmental disorders

Feeding or eating disorders  (6b80-6b8z), 6b80 anorexia nervosa, international classification of diseases for mortality and morbidity statistics, 11th revision, v2022-02.

Anorexia Nervosa is characterised by significantly low body weight for the individual’s height, age and developmental stage that is not due to another health condition or to the unavailability of food. A commonly used threshold is body mass index (BMI) less than 18.5 kg/m2 in adults and BMI-for-age under 5th percentile in children and adolescents. Rapid weight loss (e.g. more than 20% of total body weight within 6 months) may replace the low body weight guideline as long as other diagnostic requirements are met. Children and adolescents may exhibit failure to gain weight as expected based on the individual developmental trajectory rather than weight loss. Low body weight is accompanied by a persistent pattern of behaviours to prevent restoration of normal weight, which may include behaviours aimed at reducing energy intake (restricted eating), purging behaviours (e.g. self-induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives), and behaviours aimed at increasing energy expenditure (e.g. excessive exercise), typically associated with a fear of weight gain. Low body weight or shape is central to the person's self-evaluation or is inaccurately perceived to be normal or even excessive.

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Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. DSM-5 Changes: Implications for Child Serious Emotional Disturbance [Internet]. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); 2016 Jun.

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Table 19 dsm-iv to dsm-5 anorexia nervosa comparison.

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Severity is based on body mass index (BMI) derived from World Health Organization categories for thinness in adults; corresponding percentiles should be used for children and adolescents: Mild: BMI greater than or equal to 17 kg/m 2 , Moderate: BMI 16–16.99 kg/m 2 , Severe: BMI 15–15.99 kg/m 2 , Extreme: BMI less than 15 kg/m 2 .

Purging is self-induced vomiting or misuse of laxatives, diuretics, or enemas.

From: 3, DSM-5 Child Mental Disorder Classification

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