Do I have anorexia nervosa?
If you’ve experienced some major or unhealthy changes in your eating habits, it’s possible. Eating disorders are psychological disorders characterized by abnormal or disturbed eating habits. The chance for recovery from an eating disorder increases the earlier it’s detected and treated. As a drug rehab in Philly that also offers eating disorder programs, we understand how severe conditions like anorexia and bulimia can impact a person’s life. Of them all, anorexia is the most common and deadly. If you suspect that a loved one has this condition, we’re sharing the warning signs of anorexia and what it does to the body.
What is Anorexia Nervosa?
The tell-tale signs of anorexia don’t always happen all at once. A person with anorexia nervosa may not experience all of these symptoms, or may not experience them all at the same time. It’s also important to keep in mind that this condition is believed to be genetic, meaning a history of anorexia in the family can increase your chances of developing the condition. Other risk factors of anorexia include pre-existing mental disorders like OCD or depression, body dysmorphia, anxiety, low self-esteem, and perfectionism.
Additionally, there are two types of anorexia nervosa: the restricting type and the binge eating and purging type. A person with the restricting type of anorexia may limit the amount of food they eat to achieve weight loss. A person with the binge-eating type of anorexia may use self-induced vomiting, laxatives, diuretics, and/or excessive exercising to compensate for periods of eating.
Common behavioral and physical signs of anorexia include:
- Thinking about food, dieting, calories, and/or weight all the time
- Constantly trying new diets, which are often extreme
- Believing you’re overweight whenever you look in a mirror
- Being intensely afraid of gaining weight
- Always measuring your food (this is common in people who workout a lot, such as body builders, but can also be an indicator of anorexia if it occurs with other symptoms)
- Complaining about being “fat” despite weight loss
- Refusing to eat certain food groups, such as carbs
- Pretending you aren’t hungry when you really are
- Avoiding socializing
- Not wanting to eat in public or around others
- Wearing layers of clothing so people can’t see your body shape
- Sudden or dramatic weight loss
- Developing certain food rituals, such as eating foods in a particular order or excessive chewing
- Constantly avoiding mealtimes or situations involving food
- Resists or is unable to maintain a body weight that’s appropriate for their age and height
- Has a strong need for control, especially when it comes to food
- Stomach cramps
- Menstrual irregularities
- Often vomiting after meals
- Always feeling cold
- Dental problems
- Dry skin and brittle nails
- Muscle weakness
- Yellowing of the skin (often due to eating a lot of carrots)
- Slow wound healing
- Impaired immune function
- Swelling of the hands or feet
While this list can be overwhelming, understanding the early signs of anorexia can save a life. Many people with anorexia also have depression or OCD, which can make their situation tougher. Individuals with eating disorders may also turn to drug abuse in an attempt to expedite their weight loss or cope with a mental illness. Suicide is a serious risk among people with anorexia, especially if they also have a co-existing mental disorder. If you notice the first signs of anorexia in a loved one or in yourself, don’t wait to get help. Banyan Treatment Centers Philadelphia offers eating disorders treatment for all types of conditions.
Eating Disorders: More than Meets the Eye Holistic Care: Treating the Mind, Body and Soul