Anorexia Symptoms and Signs

Early signs of anorexia can be difficult to recognize. Symptoms may be concealed, or dismissed as side effects from other conditions or illnesses.

Eating disorder treatment professionals however, are trained to detect the symptoms that distinguish anorexia from other medical conditions. The physical signs and symptoms of anorexia are often related to starvation, but the disorder also includes emotional and behavioral indicators related to an unrealistic perception of body image and an extremely strong fear of gaining weight.

Physical Symptoms of Anorexia

Physical signs and symptoms of anorexia may include:
  • Inadequate food and nutritional intake
  • Dramatic weight loss
  • Abnormal blood counts
  • Insomnia
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Hair that thins, breaks or falls out
  • Irregular heart rhythms
  • Loss or absence of menstruation
  • Osteoporosis

Behavioral and Emotional Symptoms of Anorexia

Behavioral symptoms of anorexia may include:
  • Preoccupation or obsession with weight, food, calories and dieting
  • Fear of gaining weight
  • Denial of hunger
  • Excessive exercise
  • Binging and self-induced vomiting
  • Usage of laxatives, enemas, diet aids or herbal products
Emotional symptoms of anorexia may include:
  • Depressed mood
  • Irritability
  • Flat mood (lack of emotion)
  • High anxiety about gaining weight
  • Social withdrawal
  • Denial of low body weight, harmful behavior or the severity of the condition
  • Thoughts of suicide

Other Red Flags

It can be easy to miss the signs and symptoms of anorexia. Individuals suffering from anorexia often conceal their eating habits, weight loss or physical problems. If you are concerned that you or someone you know has anorexia, watch for these red flags:
  • Frequent comments about feeling fat or overweight, despite weight loss
  • Consistent excuses to avoid mealtimes or situations involving food
  • Lying about how much food has been eaten
  • Abnormal or ritualistic eating habits, such as eating foods in a certain order, excessive chewing and rearranging food on a plate
  • Refusal to eat certain foods or food groups
  • Frequently looking in the mirror to check for perceived flaws
  • Repeated weighing or measuring of themselves
  • Covering up in layers of clothing to conceal their body

As a pattern of disordered eating becomes more apparent and the associated behaviors of anorexia intensify, it may have an impact on the individual’s performance at school or work, as well as relationships with friends and family.

If You Are Ready to Regain Your Life, Walden Can Help.

If you are concerned that you – or a loved one – may have an eating disorder, we are here to help. Please call 781-647-6727 to speak with a Walden eating disorders intake specialist, or complete the form on this page, to start the road to recovery.

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