Signs of Anorexia

There are a number of signs of anorexia. Knowing these anorexia symptoms could save a life, because prompt treatment for the disorder is necessary to prevent severe and sometimes fatal complications of the disease. If you have any of these symptoms of anorexia, you may need professional help. See your doctor or a counselor for treatment recommendations. If you see these signs in someone you care about, encourage them to get treatment. You might also show them this article.

Anorexia 10 Signs

There are numerous signs of anorexia, but these 10 are the most prevalent.

    1. Sudden and severe weight loss. This is the symptom that most people think of when they hear the word anorexia, but really it just one of many signs of anorexia. (In a growing child, failure to make expected weight gains may be a symptom.)
    2. A preoccupation with or obsession about food and/or weight. For instance, people with anorexia can often tell you just how many calories and fat grams are in a wide number of foods, including foods they never eat themselves. They may cook for others, collect recipes, watch cooking shows, and so on. They may weigh themselves multiple times a day. They may be able to tell you exactly how many calories certain activities burn.
    3. Withdrawal from social situations, especially those involving food. People with anorexia often avoid eating in public. They also want to avoid situations in which others might express concern about their eating habits or their weight.
    4. Lying about their weight and how much food they eat. People with anorexia may pretend to eat in order to avoid confrontations about their condition. They may also insist that they are not hungry, even when it’s been a long time since their last meal.
    5. Strange eating habits, such as cutting food a certain way or only eating one food. Anorexic people may experience severe anxiety if their rituals are interrupted or questioned.
    6. Health problems. People with anorexia are subject to a large number of health problems, including weakness, dizziness, and lethargy. These problems are likely due in part to low blood pressure. Another sign you might notice is a lack of menstruation. There are many other health problems people with anorexia can suffer, but many are not noticeable unless they visit a physician. These can be quite serious problems, though, like osteoporosis (bone loss), liver disease, kidney disease, and a weakened heart muscle that can lead to cardiac arrest. Health problems are one of the more serious signs of anorexia.
    7. Abusing diet pills and/or laxatives. In order to help them lose weight faster, many people with anorexia turn to pills. Diet pills, of course, suppress the appetite. Laxatives cause food to move through the system faster.
    8. Vomiting after eating. This is actually a sign of bulimia, which is another form of eating disorder, but it often goes along with anorexia. Because of that, it is included in this list of anorexia 10 signs.
    9. Exercising excessively. Many people with anorexia will exercise excessively in order to help them lose more weight. (In children this may appear as restlessness or inability to sit still.) As they become sicker from the disease, however, their ability to exercise decreases. They simply don’t have the energy to do it anymore.
    10. Restricted eating. People with anorexia become increasingly restrictive of the foods they will eat. The variety of foods they will eat decreases and they usually avoid foods deemed as less healthy.

    This video discusses how to recognize early signs of anorexia in children:

    As we mentioned earlier, if you notice any of these signs of anorexia in yourself, you should seek professional help. Your doctor should be able to refer you to a counselor or treatment center where you can get the help you need. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Follow this link for more information on how to tell someone you have an eating disorder.

    If you notice any of these anorexia 10 signs in someone you know, encourage them to get help. You can help them find a counselor or treatment center that specializes in eating disorders. Here is more information on treating anorexia nervosa.

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    Additional Reading:

    Higher-Weight (Atypical) Anorexia Nervosa
    Family-Based Treatment for Adolescent Anorexia Nervosa


    FEAST – Choosing a Treatment Provider


    Academy For Eating Disorders

    Updated by Tabitha Farrar & Dr. Lauren Muhlheim – 2014
    Written by Kelly Morris – 2009