Criteria for Anorexia in the DSM-5

Criteria for Anorexia in the DSM-5

In today’s blog, we will discuss the criteria for Anorexia in the DSM-5.  Anorexia nervosa is a severe type of eating disorder in which people often restrict the types of food and amount of calories they consume each day. Individuals suffering with the disease may also binge eat, compulsively exercise, and purge through the use of laxatives or diuretics as well as even self-induced vomiting. 

Other hallmarks of anorexia nervosa could include:

  • Being unable to gain enough weight (in growing children)
  • Losing weight
  • Having a distorted body image
  • Being an abnormally low weight for someone of their age and stature

What Does Anorexia Look Like?

A medical professional cannot diagnose anorexia just by looking at an individual; people do not have to look emaciated or be underweight to be struggling with it. Anorexia nervosa is a disease that can affect anyone regardless of his or her sexual orientation, gender, age, ethnicity, or race. And while anorexia nervosa generally manifests during an individual’s adolescence, more and more older adults and children are being diagnosed with it as well. Specialists have uncovered evidence that suggests individuals across the globe have been suffering from anorexia nervosa for hundreds–or even thousands–of years. 

What are the Risks Associated with Anorexia?

Anorexia nervosa can come with various different risks. These may include:

  • Heart issues, such as cardiac abnormalities and sudden cardiac arrest
  • Anemia, or iron deficiency
  • Menstrual irregularities or halting
  • Having a compromised immune system, leaving someone more susceptible to illness
  • Kidney failure
  • An increased risk of infertility in both men and women
  • Osteoporosis, or a weakening of the bones that leaves them prone to breaks and fractures
  • Gastrointestinal issues, such as constipation, diarrhea, and abdominal pain

Additionally, Anorexia nervosa can prove to be fatal; this is why it is important to seek treatment as early as possible.

The Major Subtypes of Anorexia

The National Eating Disorders Collaboration splits anorexia nervosa into two major subtypes:

  • People who suffer from the restricting subtype restrict what types of food they eat and how much of it they consume. These behaviors may also be coupled with excessive working out.
  • People who have the binge eating and purging subtype also restrict how much and what types of food they eat. However, they also purge their food and may even binge eat, too. Hallmarks of a binge eating episode include eating a large amount of food while feeling out of control. And the hallmarks of a purge involves engaging in compensatory behavior after eating that could involve self-inducing vomiting and/or misusing laxatives, enemas, and/or diuretics.

Anorexia Nervosa in the DSM-5

In order for an individual to be diagnosed with anorexia nervosa according to the DSM-5, they must experience the following:

  1. A major fear of gaining weight, perhaps even while being underweight.
  2. A disturbance in one’s body image, using one’s body shape or weight to unduly self evaluate, or denial that one is at a low body weight.
  3. Restricting how many calories one consumes that results in a significantly low body weight within the context of one’s physical health and/or development trajectory.

However, it is important to remember that someone can be suffering from a serious eating disorder even if the DSM-5 criteria have not been met. 

If you find yourself in a crisis, you can text “NEDA” to 741-741 at any time to be put in touch with a properly trained individual. We are also here to help you here at Eating Disorder Recovery Specialists. You can reach us via phone (866-525-2766), email, or by filling out our contact form.

Scroll to Top