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What are the symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa?

It is important to rule out other possible physical explanations for the weight loss and become aware of other physical problems that may affect how the person is treated.

Physical symptoms:

  • Often severe restricting of food intake
  • Excessive exercise my also occur to lose weight
  • Some anorexics binge and purge. (as a bulimic sufferer would) They control their calorie intake by vomiting after eating or misusing laxatives, diuretics or enemas
  • Extreme weight loss
  • Thin appearance (often skeletal looking)
  • Abnormal blood counts
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Dizziness/fainting
  • A bluish discolouration of the fingers and skin
  • Hair is thin, brittle and falls out
  • Soft, downy hair covering the body
  • Absence of menstruation cycles (often permanent infertility)
  • Constipation
  • Dehydration
  • Irregular heart rhythms (can often lead to cardiac arrest)
  • Low blood pressure
  • Osteoporosis
  • Swelling of arms and/or legs

 Emotional and behavioural symptoms:

  • Pre-occupation/obsessiveness with body image and food
  • Refusal to eat or skipping of meals
  • Hiding/playing of food dished onto their plate
  • Constantly making excuses for not eating
  • Denial of hunger
  • Fear of gaining weight
  • Eating only a few “safe” foods (usually those low in fat and calories)
  • Lying about how much food has actually been eaten
  • Adopting rigid meal or eating rituals e.g. cutting food into tiny pieces or spitting food out after chewing
  • Excessive exercise
  • Cooking elaborate meals for others, but refusing to eat themselves
  • Flat mood (lack of emotion shown)
  • Social withdrawal
  • Excessive weighing (often several times a day)
  • Irritability
  • Frequent checking in the mirror for perceived flaws
  • Constant complaining about being fat
  • Reduced interest in sexual intercourse
  • Depressive mood
  • Not wanting to eat in public
  • Possible use of laxatives, diuretics, diet aids, enemas
  • A host of various emotions:  angry; sad; anxious; moody; hopeless
The South African Despression and Anxiety Group
Cresent Clinic

Sometimes you need to step outside, get some fresh air and remind yourself of who you are and who
you want to be.

Your past does not define who you are.

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent

A friend is one who walks in when others walk out

You cannot depend on others for your sense of self-worth. It must come from within YOU!


BORN TO BE YOU! Inspirational Speaker/Author
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Binge eating and purging | Causes of eating disorders | Side effects of eating disorders | When to see a Doctor | The Facts
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