In today's world, many people strive to be thin, often due to messages from the media about the dangers of obesity or images of celebrities.
But for people suffering from anorexia nervosa, the desire to be thin goes beyond the ideals of beauty or health and reflects a serious mental illness.
People with anorexia nervosa have an irrational fear of gaining weight and put themselves on restrictive diets and harsh, punishing exercise routines.
They have an unrealistic body image, like looking in a trick mirror, and see themselves as fat when they are in fact severely underweight.
Anorexia nervosa, like all eating disorders, also has important psychological and emotional factors that impact on the development and progression of the disorder.
Anorexia nervosa can lead to malnutrition and serious health problems which can be life threatening.
A person with anorexia nervosa can fully recover from their disorder with help.
Treatment for anorexia nervosa can help an individual achieve a healthy weight and develop healthy eating habits, as well as addressing the psychological and emotional factors that impact on wellbeing. It's important to see a doctor as soon as possible, as identifying the condition, offers the best chances of recovery.
Last reviewed: October 2015