Why is Anorexia Called Anorexia “Nervosa?”

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Why is Anorexia Called Anorexia “Nervosa?”

Why is Anorexia Called Anorexia “Nervosa?” 2560 1920 Right Path Counseling

Many of us are familiar with eating disorder terms, even if we may or may not have a deep understanding of their meaning. One such term is anorexia. Anorexia is a word frequently associated with extreme caloric restriction, weight loss, and severe eating disorders.

But anorexia is shorthand. The actual term, at least when it comes to the type of anorexia that most people are referring to, is “anorexia nervosa.” But what does “nervosa” mean, and why is it part of the terminology use to describe the condition?  

Anorexia – A Closer Look

The term “Anorexia” itself, derived from the Greek words “an-” meaning “without” and “orexis” meaning “appetite,” captures the lack of desire to eat. It’s a manifestation of the core symptoms of the disorder. But medically, it also means just that – a lack of appetite. While the term anorexia is not typically used to describe people with a poor appetite, the translation of the root terms means that the word could theoretically be appropriate to describe anyone that simply doesn’t have hunger.

What Does “Nervosa” Mean?

It is for that reason that the term “Nervosa” is added, and why that is, in many ways, one of the most important terms for understanding and defining the condition. “Nervosa” is a Latin term translating to “nervous” or “pertaining to the nerves.” Its addition to “Anorexia” reflects the underlying mental distress and anxiety that accompanies this disorder. Combined, the term becomes more descriptive, addressing:

  • Physical and Emotional Components – Anorexia Nervosa is not only about weight and food; it also includes mental health struggles. The term “Nervosa” emphasizes this dual nature, shedding light on the anxiety and control issues that intertwine with the physical symptoms.
  • Historical Context – “Anorexia Nervosa” was coined in the 19th century to emphasize the mental aspects of the disorder. This addition illustrates the medical understanding of the time, where the nervous system was believed to be at the core of various diseases.
  • A Comprehensive Term – The combination of “Anorexia” and “Nervosa” provides a more complete understanding of the disorder, encompassing not just the physical but also the mental and emotional struggles.

Anorexia may be considered an appropriate shorthand for the eating disorder, but it is the term “nervosa” that makes it medically accurate. It also opens the door for new terms someday, such as anorexia athletica, which is not currently a part of the diagnostic manual but could be in future editions.

Treatment for Anorexia at Right Path Counseling

Anorexia Nervosa, like other forms of anorexia, such as anorexia athletica, requires specialized treatment. At Right Path Counseling in Jericho, NY, we offer:

  • A deep understanding of the relationship with food and body image.
  • Treatment for potential causes, such as anxiety and stress.
  • A tailored approach integrating therapies like CBT, DBT, and psychoanalytic, depending on the individual’s needs.

We are here to help you overcome eating disorders and help you create a better relationship with food.

Get Help for Anorexia at Right Path

The term “Anorexia Nervosa” is a blend of ancient Greek and Latin, painting a complete picture of a complex disorder. It helps us understand that Anorexia is not merely about physical appearance but also a mental and emotional battle.

If you or a loved one is struggling with Anorexia Nervosa or any other eating disorder, Right Path Counseling is here to help With our comprehensive treatment plans and supportive environment, we can help you rebuild a healthy relationship with food and your body. Contact us today to start your journey to recovery. Our office is located in Jericho, NY, and we also offer remote therapy if needed.

Right Path

Right Path Counseling is a team of counselors and therapists on Long Island, each with their unique perspectives and approaches to provide more personal, customized care. We see our role as more diverse than only the therapist and patient relationship, and see people as more than anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions. We also offer services for children with ADHD and their parents that are unique to the Long Island area, including parent coaching and executive function disorder coaching. We encourage you to reach out at any time with questions and for support.

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