Here are Some of the Anorexia Symptoms

...that you should be aware of

There are many anorexia symptoms and these are important to know in order to be able to identify whether or not someone has the condition. Anorexia nervosa is a condition of excessive deliberately induced weight loss of greater than 15% of normal weight or a BMI of 17.5 or less.

Considering this website is about quick weight loss, I though it was appropriate and responsible to discuss anorexia nervosa. Whilst losing weight, as a general rule, is a healthy practice to engage in, taking weight loss to the extreme, as is the case with anorexia nervosea, is certainly not!

In this article we will cover the anorexia symptoms and also what can be done to help treat the condition.

Anorexia often begins as a result of dieting or excessive exercise. It is associated with an intense fear of being overweight and this may be followed by a total preoccupation with body weight, body shape and food intake. One of the anorexia symptoms may include self-induced vomiting (bulemia) but not always.

Anorexia Symptoms

Weight loss for anorexic people is usually achieved by severely resticted food intake, excessive exercise, use of appetite suppressants, use of diuretics, self-induced vomiting and self-induced purging.

Oe of the more obvious anorexia symptoms is body image distortion. Anorexic people believe they are fat and endeavour to always strive for a lower weight. They have a constant fear of being fat and often employ extreme measures to ensure it doesn't happen to them.

Anorexic people are completely absorbed in their dieting and exercise and lose touch with reality. Their life is put on hold.

Stages of Anorexia

Stage 1: Dieting Stage: Feel in control of food and weight. May have other aspects of life out of control. Enjoy the process of dieting and losing weight.

Stage 2: Aesthetic Stage: The dieting has been progressing for some time. There is some minor starvation but the person is feeling fine. They may even feel quite blissful (on a high) by dieting. It is similar to runner's high and results from endorphin production by the body.

Stage 3: Starvation Stage: Thoughts of food dominate their mind. Severe starvation is occurring and may result in insomnia, exhaustion, depression, anxiety, sensitivity to cold, irritability, foggy thinking and paranoia.

Physical Signs of Anorexia (Stage 3)

  • Emaciation- loss of muscle, which leads to weakness
  • Malnutrition- affects skin, hair and essential organs, i.e. heart and kidneys.
  • Amenorrhoea- results from low body weight and low estrogen levels
  • Reduced sex drive- due to loss of weight and hormone imbalances
  • Delayed sexual development- as a result of low body weight prior to puberty
  • Osteoporosis- poor bone density occurs immediately or at some stage in the future from lack of nutrition and reduced hormone production
  • Hypoglycaemia- low blood sugar results from severely reduced food intake
  • Constipation- results from a reduced fiber intake
  • Carotenemia- a carotene imbalance results in a yellowish tinge to the skin
  • Lanugo- soft, fine hair all over body as well as thin, brittle and dull head hair
  • Hypotension- low blood pressure results from electrolyte imbalances in their body
  • Bradycardia- a slow heart rate also results from electrolyte imbalances in their body
  • General Anorexia Symptoms (Stage 3)

  • Excessive food restriction and use of diet products
  • Excessive measurement of foods
  • Faddish food beliefs and practices, extreme fussiness about foods, desire to know exact content of foods
  • Anxiety related to food and meal times, inability to eat with others
  • Abnormal eating behaviours and satiety responses
  • Preoccupation with thoughts of food
  • Excessive means of weight control- exercise, constant movement, self-induced vomiting (bulemia), laxatives, etc.
  • Low self esteem, feeling inadequate, ineffectual, perfectionism
  • Difficulty expressing anger, being assertive or expressing emotions, rigid self control
  • Inability to make and follow through with decisions
  • Feel that their weight is fine, everyone else is wrong
  • Incidence

    It is estimated that up to 60% of girls and young women engage in unhealthy weight-loss practices and this puts them at risk of developing an eating disorder. Population studies indicate that 0.5% of girls aged between 15 and 19 are classified as anorexics and demonstrate anorexia symptoms.


    The earlier the treatment, the more favourable the outcome. Personality disorders, disturbed family background and poor motivation for treatment will all hinder recovery. After 4 years there is a 5% mortality rate and after 15 years a 20% mortality rate.

    Treatment and Recovery

    If you have a friend or family member that has the above anorexia symptoms and who you suspect may be sufferring from the condition, it imperative that you develop a relationship of trust and show interest in them as a person. They need to come to the point of realising that there is a problem and then must have the desire to change.

    Anorexic people look at recovery as failure. Research has shown that establishing a good relationship with the person who has the condition is more important than the strategies used to help them overcome the condition.

    It is important that anorexics have something meaningful in their life before they are willing to give up their eating disorder so helping them develop an interest and perhaps a career in health, nutrition, fitness (things they already have some interest in) may be beneficial. Perhaps they can assist other people with the condition once they have overcome it.

    Each person with the condition will have a different set of anorexia symptoms because each sufferer is affected by a complex interaction between social, cultural, political and family issues which have lead to the condition in the first place. It is important to help them create a realistic body image and to engage in healthy lifestyle practices, especially relating to nutrition and exercise.

    Of course, helping someone through the process is best done by a psychologist or someone who has had extensive training in this area. With support, the chances of success are very high. The best thing we can do to help is to simply show them support, develop a strong, trusting relationship with them and guide them along the right path, which generally means seeking professional help.

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