The symptoms of anorexia can be obvious or hidden, but knowing them will help you to catch this deadly disease and help yourself or the patient. It is important to recognize anorexia symptoms as early as possible for the most likelihood of successful treatment. Below you will find basic information about this eating disorder.
Signs of Anorexia Nervosa
One of the most obvious signs of anorexia nervosa is a sudden drop in body weight (at least 15% below the person's normal weight) along with an increased concern over body image, weight, and food intake. What makes anorexia symptoms so difficult to treat is that they are rooted in psychological problems (causes of anorexia). Some of these psychological problems can also come across as symptoms of anorexia. For example, a common sign of anorexia is an irrational fear of gaining weight or becoming fat. While the fear is obviously irrational, in the minds of the afflicted these thoughts are very real. They act out in the manner that they do in relation to food as a way of ensuring that this irrational fear never comes to light.
Individuals suffering from anorexia often have an incredibly distorted self image; whereby, they do not see themselves as others do. They see themselves as fat regardless of how thin they actually are, and they resort to desperate measures to continue to lose weight. These individuals exhibit an above-normal concern over their appearances, but will ignore or disbelieve anyone who tries to tell them that they are too thin.
This obsession manifests itself physically in a number of ways that are key signs of anorexia. This manifestation includes strictly-regimented, nutrient-deficient diets, and the individual may or may not exercise excessively. Another way this obsession may manifest is with purging. Purging is where the afflicted will regurgitate everything they eat in order to keep from gaining weight. These individuals will often place themselves on extreme diets in spite of their already dangerously low weight and may obsessively track of every single morsel that crosses their lips.
Indirect symptoms that occur as a result of malnutrition, too much exercise, or excessive vomiting are often the first anorexia symptoms, aside from excessive weight loss, that an "outsider" is likely to notice. Malnutrition manifests physically in a number of ways. To the afflicted, it could cause problems with balance and a lack of energy, loss of menstrual period, constipation, and an irregular heart rate.
One anorexia sign that an outsider may notice is a change to and dullness in the pallor of the individual's skin. Their hair is also likely to be weak and brittle, and may even be thinning in areas.1
Symptoms and "Expressions" of Anorexia Nervosa
The signs of anorexia often manifest themselves in either one of two forms, which should be looked at in greater detail. These are either the "restrictive type" or the "binge eating/purging" type.2
- Restricting Type Anorexia
Individuals who suffer from this form of anorexia have an unhealthy and unnatural obsession with their food intake. They will put themselves on highly-restrictive diets and put themselves through complicated fasting regimes regardless of their weight. A common restricting type anorexia symptom is a preoccupation with calories and excessive tracking of food intake.
- Binge Eating/Purging Type
This type of anorexia usually involves restricting food take but also includes the elimination of food from the body by unnatural means such as self-induced vomiting or the use of laxatives and diuretics. Those afflicted with this form of anorexia may engage in sessions of binge eating, where they eat huge quantities of food before purging it from their system using one of the means described above. Not all purging type anorexics are binge eaters. Some merely display the anorexia symptom of purging food taken in.
Knowing these signs and symptoms of anorexia will enable immediate help, which is necessary to catch and reverse the devastating affects of this disease.