Anorexia simply means a loss of appetite. Anorexia nervosa is a psychological disturbance that is characterized by an intense fear of being fat. It usually affects teenage or young adult women. This persistent “fat image,” however untrue in reality, leads the patient to self-imposed starvation and emaciation (extreme thinness) to the point where one-third of the body weight is lost. There are many theories on the causes of this disease, which is difficult to treat and can be fatal. Between five and ten percent of patients hospitalized for anorexia nervosa later die from starvation or suicide. Symptoms include a 25 percent or greater weight loss (for no organic reason) coupled with a morbid dread of being fat, an obsession with food, an avoidance of eating, compulsive exercising and restlessness, binge eating followed by induced vomiting, and/or use of laxatives or diuretics.