Anorexia nervosa is characterized by severe malnourishment, or the refusal to consume the appropriate number of calories to support a healthy body weight. Common among most people with anorexia, this an inability to maintain a healthy weight. This condition stems from an intense fear of weight gain, and a distorted body image. The distortion in body image prevents those with anorexia from seeing their body as it truly is. Although the causes of anorexia have been greatly debated and can be different for each person, there is no doubt that the symptoms of anorexia are much more consistent.
To learn more about anorexia causes, click here.
When it comes to identifying the symptoms of anorexia, it is important to recognize that these symptoms can be both physical as well as emotional. In some cases they may be easily casted off as being indicative of something else. Therefore, although this general discussion of symptomatic indicators serves as an early warning detection, the best approach is to seek professional assessment when these conditions present themselves.
Physical Symptoms of Anorexia
Although the most obvious physical symptom of anorexia is weight loss, there are several other physical indicators that although less apparent, can act as warning signs of anorexia:
- Hair loss: due to lack of nutrients
- Brittle nails
- Dry skin
- Sensitivity to cold
- Due to low body temperature as a result of malnourishment; causing individuals to feel cold much of the time,
- Fine, soft hairs that grow on the body and limbs; the body’s response to regulating the individual’s internal temperature
- Discolored hands/feet
- Due to poor circulation
- Lack of menstruation
- Also called “amenorrhea” is the absence of consecutive menstrual cycles
- Low blood pressure
- Osteopenia: bone density loss
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
Emotional/Behavioral Symptoms of Anorexia
- Restriction of food intake
- Preoccupation with food and/or weight
- This could be counting calories, inquiring about ingredients in meals, asking friends and family questions regarding weight/shape/size, etc.
- Hiding food
- This is quite a common behavior for those with anorexia. Hiding food promotes the assumption of having eaten to others, and is frequently used to conceal the lack of food intake.
- Denial of hunger or refusal to eat
- Denying hunger is a commonly used excuse to get out of eating. Often as the disease worsens, individuals will no longer attempt to excuse their behavior, and flat out refuse to eat.
- Due to hunger, lack of nutrients going to brain, or discomfort with body shape/size
- Decreased emotion (flat mood)
- Isolation (social withdrawal):
- Due to low mood, or as a way to use eating disorder behaviors in private
- Decreased interest
- Typically those suffering with anorexia shift their focus from previously enjoyed activities, to activities focused around weight loss, food, and secrets.
These anorexia symptoms are extremely common and widespread among sufferers. Yet, it is vital to remember that those with anorexia may present a bit differently. To learn more about symptoms of anorexia, click here.
Anorexia, like any other eating disorder, can take over a person’s life, and ultimately lead to death. Anorexia, while extremely serious, is treatable.
If the symptoms above match the behaviors of yourself or a loved one, call us now.
The HPA/LiveWell mental health staff can help you create a unique treatment plan to treat your eating disorder and help you regain control of your life!
To learn more about options for anorexia treatment, click here.