Research Article| Volume 20, ISSUE 8, P874-887, August 1985

Anorectic behavior, mood, and metabolic and endocrine adaptation to starvation in anorexia nervosa during inpatient treatment

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      Twenty-two patients with anorexia nervosa were studied at 2-week intervals during treatment on psychiatric wards. In order to characterize the metabolic situation in starvation, levels of free fatty acids, beta-hydroxybutyric acid, and acetoacetate were measured. The endocrine adaptation to starvation was studied by measuring triiodothyronine, noradrenaline, and cortisol. Anorectic symptoms were assessed by the Anorexia Nervosa Inventory Scale (ANIS) and mood changes on the basis of a “Befindlichkeits” Scale (BF). Only half of the patients showed metabolic and endocrine signs of starvation on admission to the hospital, despite low body weight. This group had significantly more severe anorectic symptoms (ANIS) and gained weight at a lesser rate. Metabolic signs of starvation disappeared during the first 4 weeks of therapy in most of the patients. The endocrine indicators for starvation normalized much more slowly, with noradrenaline having the slowest pace. “Bulimics” and “restricters” could not be distinguished from one another by metabolic or endocrine observations. The “bulimics”, however, showed more severe anorectic symptoms (ANIS) and a more depressed mood.
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