Pica (disorder)

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(Redirected from Amylophagia)

Glore Stomach Display
Stomach contents of a psychiatric patient with pica: 1,446 items, including "453 nails, 42 screws, safety pins, spoon tops, and salt and pepper shaker tops". (Wikipedia)
SpecialtyPsychiatry, Clinical psychology
SymptomsPersistent eating of non-nutritive substances
ComplicationsInfections, intestinal obstruction, toxicity
TreatmentBehavioral interventions, medication (when related to a mental health disorder)

Pica is a psychological disorder characterized by a persistent craving to consume substances that are largely non-nutritive. The range of consumed materials can be broad, including biological substances like hair (trichophagia) or feces (coprophagia), natural elements such as ice (pagophagia) or dirt (geophagia), and a variety of chemical or manmade materials. The term 'pica' is derived from the Latin word for magpie, a bird known for its indiscriminate eating habits.

Classification and Symptoms

Pica is classified as a feeding and eating disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). The primary characteristic is the recurrent consumption of non-nutritive substances for at least one month, which is inappropriate for the person's developmental level and not part of a culturally sanctioned practice.


The exact cause of pica is currently unknown. However, it has been associated with other mental health disorders, including developmental disorders, schizophrenia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Pica can also occur during pregnancy and in individuals with certain nutrient deficiencies, such as iron deficiency anemia.


Treatment for pica often involves behavioral interventions, such as reinforcing non-pica related behaviors, providing alternative activities, and educating individuals about the potential harms of non-nutritive eating. In some cases, medication may be used to treat the underlying mental health disorder associated with pica.


Pica can lead to a range of complications, depending on the substance consumed. These can include gastrointestinal obstruction or perforation, infections, and toxicity from ingested materials.

See Also


Latest articles - Pica (disorder)

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