Identifying the Signs and Symptoms of Anorexia
One of the most common Eating Disorders is Anorexia Nervosa. Anorexia is a psychological disorder with extreme and sometimes long-term physical implications. It is often the result of a lack of nourishment compared to what the body requires for sustainability and is one of the most recognized eating disorders due to its physical effects on the body. However, symptoms are not always visible in everyone struggling with Anorexia. Complications associated with Anorexia hold the second-highest mortality rate of all psychological disorders.
Mentioned below are some of the most important signs of a person suffering from Anorexia Nervosa. The signs and symptoms of Anorexia can be categorized into both physical and psychological manifestations.
Signs of Anorexia Nervosa
- Dramatic weight loss. This can happen quickly or over the course of time and is also one of the diagnostic criteria of anorexia nervosa. With a societal drive for thinness, dramatic weight loss can be mistaken as a success and often applauded by friends and loved ones. Those struggling with anorexia nervosa are often shrinking the size of their body intentionally and for many different psychological reasons.
- Dressing in layers or wearing baggy clothing. As anorexia nervosa leads to weight loss, it also disrupts normal hormonal functioning leaving the individual feeling cold. Dressing in layers is a strategy used by those struggling to keep warm and to hide or feel more comfortable with body image.
- Always thinking about food. Always thinking or talking about food. If you are worried about a loved one’s potential of having anorexia nervosa, take note of how often the conversation turns to food, dieting, cravings, or fear of loss of control with food. Notice any eating behaviors such as moving food around on the plate to consistently reporting fullness after having only eaten a small amount.
- Eliminating food groups. You may notice a loved one fearful of foods or food groups such as carbohydrates or fats. They may also restrict fun foods such as desserts.
- Conscious about weight or extreme fear of gaining weight. OCD is a common root cause of anorexia nervosa and those struggling can often share repetitive intrusive thoughts regarding weight and shape. This can look like excessive weighing and impulsive exercise.
- Stomach cramps. Many gastrointestinal issues arise with anorexia nervosa. This can also be accompanied by menstrual cycle disruptions.
- Anemia and other abnormal lab values. Lack of adequate nutrition and abnormal thyroid function due to low body weight and stress can cause abnormal lab values including, but not limited to low iron or anemia.
- Dizziness. Due to inadequate nutrition and hydration, those struggling with anorexia nervosa can experience dizziness, low blood pressure, and low heart rate. This can be mistaken for high fitness, so it is important to be checked by a medical provider if these symptoms are experienced.
Knowing how to talk to a loved one suffering from Anorexia can be quite a challenging task. Below are some recommendations about approaching the conversation:
- Use phrases such as “I am worried about you” versus making comments regarding body image
- Try not to comment on your own or others’ body shape and size
- Help shine light on your favorite qualities of your loved one
- Let them know when you see progress or effort in positive change
- Assist your loved one in finding a dedicated care team qualified in the treatment of Eating Disorders
At Selah House, we understand the importance of addressing the warning signs of an Eating Disorder. Our path together begins with one phone call to our dedicated Admission Team. Our team of experts makes clear recommendations for the level of care and length of treatment that are based upon the individual. Our programs offer flexibility, and our treatment plans are designed to understand individual needs. We believe the combination of a unique step-down approach and multidisciplinary therapies in a homelike setting is the best path for sustained recovery.
If you or someone you know is suffering from an Eating Disorder, look no further, we are here, and we are ready to help. Contact our Admission Team with One Call, Many Solutions at 765-641-0022.