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Anorexia Symptoms to Be Aware Of

Anorexia is a very serious disorder that affects many women. In fact, according to the OWH, “85-95 percent of anorexics are female.” These statistics are devastating as anorexia can not only disrupt a person’s life and relationships, but it is a debilitating illness that can actually result in the person’s death. If you believe you or a woman you know may be anorexic, be aware of the symptoms and reach out.

What is Anorexia?

Anorexia nervosa is an illness that causes many women to intentionally starve themselves as they have “an intense fear of gaining weight” (OWH). It can occur in women of any race, ethnicity, or age group, although young women are often the ones affected by it. It is usually caused by an unhealthy body image and ideas about how one should look, but often, it is also “a way of using food or starving oneself to feel more in control of life and to ease tension, anger, and anxiety.” Anorexia is a complex and dangerous eating disorder, and the longer it goes on, the harder it is to stop.

Physical Signs of Anorexia

symptoms of eating disorders

Anorexia causes people to extremely restrict their food intake.

One of the most obvious physical anorexia symptoms is thinness. But a person who is anorexic often has a body of “extreme thinness” to the point of emaciation (NIMH). This is especially true the longer the disorder goes untreated. Other physical signs of anorexia are:

  • “Lack of menstruation”
  • Thinning and brittle hair
  • Low blood pressure
  • Bruising of the skin
  • Jaundice
  • Anemia
  • Weakness in muscles as well as general weakness
  • Constipation
  • Kidney problems
  • Fainting

These physical symptoms can become worse and may even lead to death if the woman is not treated for anorexia.

Behavioral Signs of Anorexia

Women who are anorexic will also behave differently from those who are not. Some of the behavioral signs of anorexia are:

  • “Taking pills to urinate or have a bowel movement”
  • Taking pills for diets or dieting constantly
  • Eating as little as possible or not eating at all
  • Exercising to the point of exhaustion, over-exercising, exercising “even in bad weather or when hurt or tired” (OWH)
  • Moving food around on a plate in order to make it look eaten, hiding food in order to get rid of it later, or otherwise being secretive about eating habits

The behavioral anorexia symptoms will make a person seem suspicious, as if she has something to hide. She will not want to discuss her eating habits with anyone.

Psychological Signs of Anorexia

A woman who is anorexic may believe that:

  • She weighs much more than she truly does
  • She looks very different than she truly does
  • She will gain weight if she eats something
  • Gaining weight is something to fear
  • Her own self-esteem should be wrapped up in “perceptions of body weight and shape” or other related issues
  • She must continue with a “relentless pursuit of thinness” even if she is already thin or even emaciated (NIMH)

Anorexia can lead to problems that are not immediately solvable, but through treatment, a woman can regain her life from anorexia. It is important to seek treatment as soon as possible for this disorder.

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