Anorexia Nervosa

Below are common symptoms and signs seen in Anorexia.  Not all individuals will identify with all of the items listed below, as this is a general list of common symptoms faced. It is also important to note that Anorexia can go undiagnosed when an individuals body type does not meet the 'underweight' criteria for a medical diagnosis. This is a common theme in the mis-diagnosis of the disorder and Eating Disorders in general and misconception in the portrayal of Anorexia in the media.

Physical Symptoms

  • Extreme thinness, however not all individuals will be categorized as underweight
  • Denies or rejects feelings of hunger and Have little or no hunger and fullness cues
  • Consistently makes excuses to avoid mealtimes or situations involving food; often avoids public eating
  • Engages in compensatory behaviors to “burn off” caloric intake
  • Maintains an excessive, rigid exercise regimen – despite weather, fatigue, illness, or injury 
  • Gastrointestinal Complaints
  • Abnormal heart rate
  • Dizziness, Fainting
  • Inability to regulate body temperature: Feeling cold all the time
  • Sleep problems
  • Dry skin and brittle nails
  • Fine hair on body (lanugo)Thin and brittle hair
  • Physically weak
  • Impaired immune functioning causing frequent colds, illnesses and slow healing


Social, Emotional and Cognitive Symptoms

  • Has an intense fear of weight gain or being “fat”
  • Preoccupation with weight, food, calories, restricting energy and dieting
  • Refuses to eat certain foods or food groups and identifies food groups with morality (good vs. bad foods)
  • Desire to engage in clean eating or clean foods
  • States they feel “fat” or overweight despite low body weight
  • Often wear baggy clothing or clothing that is too large to hide their body 
  • Engages in food rituals and food behaviors (only eats certain colors, takes microbites, tearing food, hiding food, etc.)
  • Social isolation or social withdrawal from previously enjoyed activities, while becoming more solitary
  • Resists or is unable to maintain a body weight that is sufficient for their unique age, height and build
  • Places extreme value of body shape on self-evaluation, or denial of the seriousness of low body weigt
  • Difficulties concentrating
  • Alexithymia – inability to identify and express emotion
  • Extreme Perfectionistic tendencies
  • Self Punishing

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