Early signs of anorexia can be difficult to recognize. Symptoms may be concealed or dismissed as side effects from other conditions or illnesses.
However, eating disorder treatment professionals 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
Dizziness or fainting
Hair that thins, breaks or falls out
Irregular heart rhythms
Loss or absence of menstruation
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
Binging and self-induced vomiting
Usage of laxatives, enemas, diet aids or herbal products
Emotional symptoms of anorexia may include:
Flat mood (lack of emotion)
High anxiety about gaining weight
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 that may indicate the need for anorexia treatment:
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.
Visit our main anorexia information page to learn more about anorexia or read our blog posts about anorexia to learn more about anorexia symptoms, treatment and more.
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.