Disorder Information Sheet Mental Health Information from PsychNet-UK
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A pattern of eating non-nutritive substances, lasting for at least a month, Such substances as dirt, paper etc. The main characteristics are:

For at least 1 month the person persists in eating dirt or other nonnutritive substances.

This behavior is not appropriate to the person's developmental level.

It is not sanctioned in the person's culture.

If this behavior occurs solely in the context of another mental disorder (such as Mental Retardation, Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Schizophrenia), it is serious enough to require independent clinical attention.

Associated Features: 

Pica can be experienced by any socioeconomic group, There are no cultural propensity towards this disorder. While it may be associated with nutritional deficiencies such as iron deficiency anemia, pica can occur when there are no deficiencies.

Differential Diagnosis:

Some disorders have similar or even the same symptom. The clinician, therefore, in his diagnostic attempt has to differentiate against the following disorders which he needs to rule out to establish a precise diagnosis.

None Detailed


Pica can occur during pregnancy. Some cases occur in people with severe psychiatric conditions. In others, no cause can be identified.


Treatment emphasizes psychosocial, environmental, and family guidance approaches.

Counseling and Psychotherapy [ See Therapy Section ]:

Other successful treatments have been mild aversion therapy followed by positive reinforcement.

related books
  Eating Disorders (The Library in a Book)
UK Support Groups

Eating Disorders Association

103 Prince of Wales Road
United Kingdom
Adultline: 0845 634 1414
Youthline: 0845 634 7650

PsychNet-UK Links
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Page Updated
21th July 2003