Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia is characterized by a refusal to eat that leads to below-normal body weight. This means restricting food intake until the individual eats very little, sometimes only a few hundred calories/day. Anorexia may be life threatening.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Significant weight loss
  • Continuing to diet though very thin
  • Feeling fat, even after significant weight loss
  • Intense fear of weight gain
  • Preoccupation with food, calories, fat content, carbohydrate content and nutrition
  • Lying about food consumption
  • Preferring to diet in isolation
  • Cooking for but not eating in front
    of others
  • Compulsive exercise
  • Depression, anxiety

Physical Consequences

  • Shrunken internal organs
  • Bone mineral loss (especially calcium), which can lead to osteoporosis
  • Low body temperature, cold hands and feet
  • Low blood pressure
  • Slowed metabolism and reflexes
  • Irregular heartbeat, which can lead to heart tremors, cardiac arrest
  • Hair loss
  • Fainting
  • Weakness, exhaustion
  • Periods of hyperactivity
  • Constipation
  • Growth of fine body hair on arms, legs and other body parts (called lanugo)
  • Dry, brittle skin
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fertility concerns
  • Loss of menstrual period (amenorrhea)