What is anorexia?

What are signs someone has anorexia?

How do I get help for anorexia?

We all do it – we turn to Dr. Google and type in the name of an illness or symptoms we are experiencing because we are concerned for ourselves or someone we love. We quickly scan the results that load and either feel relief, “phew this is not what I have”) or concern “wow, this all sounds like me.” So what is Anorexia Nervosa?

According to the The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) the following are diagnostic criteria for Anorexia Nervosa:

• Restriction of energy intake relative to requirements, leading to a significantly low body weight in the context of age, sex, developmental trajectory and physical health
• Intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat, even if at a significantly low weight
• Disturbance about body weight or shape, undue influence of body weight or shape on self-evaluation, or denial of the seriousness of current low body weight

Anorexia Nervosa is one of the most complicated mental health disorders with serious physical and emotional consequences. It’s important to recognize that although sudden and dramatic weight loss is often what most people think of when they hear the term (and what typically makes it to headlines in media outlets), there are many behavioral and emotional symptoms that people experience.

Below are 10 signs that might indicate that someone has anorexia nervosa. Keep in mind that a person does not need to exhibit all of the symptoms below to be in need of support:
• Preoccupation or obsession with weight, food, calories and dieting
• Fear of gaining weight
• Excessive exercise
• Irritability
• High anxiety about gaining weight
• Social withdrawal
• Denial of low body weight, harmful behavior or the severity of the condition
• Thoughts of suicide
• Abnormal or ritualistic eating habits, such as eating foods in a certain order, excessive chewing and rearranging food on a plate
• Covering up in layers of clothing to conceal their body

If you are living with a mental illness, and let’s remember that’s 1 in 5 of us in any given year, it can be hard to accept what you are experiencing and ask for help. If you are supporting a friend or family member in the throes of mental illness you need to know what you should be looking for and what resources are available and necessary.

Denial plays a major role in all eating disorders. If you are worried that you or someone you know has anorexia nervosa, learn more, consider taking an online quiz and talk to a professional.

Anorexia Nervosa is treatable and you can recover. Reach out and get support today!


Kristin Brawn is the assistant vice president of marketing and community relations at Walden Behavioral Care. She is responsible for developing and executing proactive community relations strategies that raise awareness of the programs and services that Walden offers. To achieve this, Ms. Brawn works closely with Walden staff including executives, program directors and marketing and community relations associates to promote programs, events and new initiatives. She also maintains close relationships with crisis centers, mental health providers, dietitians and doctors in New England and leverages regional and national partnerships with key eating disorder organizations. Prior to joining Walden, Ms. Brawn spent a decade working for the nonprofit Multi-service Eating Disorders Association (MEDA) in Newton, Mass. She began her career at MEDA as an office coordinator, but was quickly promoted to roles of increasing responsibility including director of project management, chief operating officer and executive director. As executive director, she worked closely with the board of directors to manage finances and raise funds to help elevate the organization. She was also responsible for coordinating MEDA’s national conference which included selecting speakers, overseeing conference advertising and marketing and coordinating volunteers. Ms. Brawn earned her bachelor’s from the College of the Holy Cross and her master’s from Boston University School of Public Health.