Anorexia Symptoms
Anorexia nervosa is perhaps the most commonly known eating disorder, but that doesn’t necessarily make it easy to spot. While most people have a general idea of what anorexia is, they’re not well-versed in the different ways it can show up and the wide range of symptoms it can encompass.  Read on to learn more about anorexia nervosa and its common (and lesser-known) symptoms.
What is anorexia nervosa?
Anorexia is characterized by severely restricted food intake and an intense fear of gaining weight. It can lead a person to develop an unhealthily low body weight, but low body weight is not the most accurate diagnostic criteria. Despite prevailing stereotypes, you don’t need to be at an extremely low weight to have anorexia, and people can experience all of the dangerous symptoms and complications of the disorder while remaining at or above an average weight. This is clinically known as atypical anorexia, but at Equip we refer to it as simply anorexia, since it’s equally serious and requires the same treatment. Misconceptions and stigma can sometimes lead people to view anorexia as a “choice” or simply about wanting to lose weight, but this is never true. Anorexia is a complex mental illness rooted in a blend of psychological, genetic, neurobiological, and environmental factors. There isn’t any singular cause of anorexia, but rather a combination of different factors that lead to the development of an eating disorder.
What are the most common signs and symptoms of anorexia?
Anorexia, like all eating disorders, tends to thrive in secrecy, and most people struggling will do everything they can to obscure or hide their disordered behaviors. This can make anorexia particularly tricky to detect, but understanding the many different red flags and subtle signs can go a long way toward helping you recognize a problem in someone you love. And if you’re struggling yourself, it’s important to be honest about which behaviors you notice in your own life.  The symptoms of anorexia can be split into five broad categories. These categories and their symptoms include:
Like all eating disorders, anorexia is characterized by distorted behaviors and attitudes toward food. In anorexia specifically, this might include symptoms like:
  • Restricting the quantity of food eaten
  • Restricting the kinds of food eaten
  • Avoiding eating in front of others
  • Lying about food intake
  • Hiding when and what food is eaten
  • Counting calories and other nutrients, often weighing and measuring food
  • Obsessively checking nutrition labels
  • Only ever drinking water
  • Eating rituals, like cutting food up into very small pieces or only eating food in a particular order
Recovery is possible
Anorexia should always be taken seriously. If untreated, it can become life threatening—and even if it never approaches that point, anorexia robs people of the beauty, joy, and love that makes life worth living.  The good news is that everyone with anorexia can achieve lasting recovery, no matter how long they’ve been struggling, how many times they’ve sought treatment, what their symptoms are, and what their weight may be. And while recovery can be a long and challenging process, most people with anorexia begin to experience significant relief from their symptoms as soon as they have the support to stop their disordered behaviors.  The first step toward recovery is acknowledging that there’s a problem. If you’ve noticed any of the signs and symptoms of anorexia in yourself or a loved one, don’t wait to get help. The earlier you seek treatment, the sooner you can begin living the full, vibrant life that’s waiting on the other side of recovery.
Take the next step
Learn more about anorexia treatment at Equip or to schedule a free consultation.