Symptoms of Anorexia

Symptoms of Anorexia


People who suffer from anorexia nervosa tend to restrict their caloric intake and what kinds of food they eat. They could also binge eat, purge via laxatives or induced vomiting, or work out compulsively. In growing children, anorexia nervosa might manifest as an inability to gain the appropriate amount of weight for their age and stature. Other hallmarks of anorexia nervosa might include:

  • Weight loss
  • A distorted body image 
  • Experiencing difficult maintaining an appropriate weight for one’s stature

This disease has been around for hundreds or maybe even thousands of years, according to research done by historians and psychologists. Furthermore, while it generally manifests during one’s adolescence, more and more older adults and children are being diagnosed with it.


Health Risks Associated with Anorexia

Anorexia nervosa puts the body into a dangerous cycle of self-starvation that denies the nutrients needed to properly function. In response, the body slows down its processes in an effort to save energy. This could lead to sudden death due to electrolyte imbalances or cardiac arrest; furthermore, this emphasizes how important it is to intervene early and obtain the appropriate treatment.


Physical Signs of Anorexia 

 There are a number of physical symptoms that could suggest someone is dealing with anorexia nervosa, such as:

  • Dramatic weight loss
  • Muscle weakness
  • Poor wound healing
  • Stomach cramps
  • Nonspecific gastrointestinal symptoms such as acid reflux or constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Constantly feeling cold
  • Sleep issues
  • Fainting
  • Impaired immune system functioning
  • Yellow skin from eating lots of carrots
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Abnormal bloodwork results such as low counts or anemia
  • Abnormal laboratory findings such as low hormone levels, slow heart rate, low potassium
  • Lanugo, or fine hair on the body
  • Dry skin
  • dry/brittle nails
  • Dental issues such as cavities, sensitivity, enamel erosion, tooth discoloration
  • Cuts and calluses on one’s finger joints, perhaps from induced vomiting
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Cold, mottled hands and feet
  • Swollen feet
  • Thinning hair on one’s head
  • Swelling around the salivary glands


Emotional and Behavior Signs of Anorexia

There are also many emotional signs and behaviors that may suggest someone is battling the disease. These might include:

  • Wearing layers to stay warm or hide weight loss
  • Denial of feeling hungry
  • Has a major fear of gaining weight
  • Food rituals, such as excessively chewing or eating food in a certain order
  • Has a preoccupation with dieting, food, weight, calories
  • Refusing to eat certain foods, that may progress into restricting against entire categories
  • Frequently commenting about feeling “fat” despite having lost weight
  • Overly restrained emotional expression and initiative
  • Cooking meals for others that they don’t eat themself
  • Complaining about gastrointestinal discomfort
  • Making excuses to avoid meals or situations that involve food
  • Feeling ineffective
  • Withdrawal from friends and usual activities
  • Worried about eating in public
  • Low spontaneity
  • Denying the seriousness of having a low body weight
  • Having an undue influence of their weight or shape on their sense of self worth
  • Has inflexible thinking
  • Expressing the need to “burn off” any calories consumed
  • Having a rigid exercise regiment that takes precedence over fatigue, illness, injury, etc
  • Has a strong need to be in control
  • Has a distorted view of their body shape or weight


How to Get Help

The side effects of anorexia nervosa can be severe. You can get help by calling an eating disorder hotline, finding a treatment center, or contacting us at Eating Disorder Recovery Specialists via phone (866-525-2766), email, or by filling out our contact form.


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