Anorexia nervosa is a severe psychiatric disorder characterized by unrelenting self-starvation and lifethreatening weight loss. The relentlessness with which individuals with anorexia nervosa pursue starvation and in some cases exercise despite the negative physical, emotional, and social consequences parallels features of addictive disorders. From a clinical perspective, individuals with anorexia nervosa behave similarly to individuals with substance abuse by narrowing their behavioral repertoire so that weight loss, restricting food intake, and excessive exercise interfere with other activities in much the same way that substance abuse does. However, fundamental differences exist between anorexia nervosa and substance abuse that suggest anorexia nervosa is not an addiction in and of itself.
Keywords: Anorexia nervosa, addiction, eating disorders, reward, substance abuse, exercise, food restriction, starvation, psychostimulants, drug use
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