Signs and Symptoms of Anorexia

These are some of the common signs and symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa. Not everyone will necessarily suffer from every symptom on this list but if you recognise that you experience some of these symptoms it is worth asking yourself whether you might have a problem because the earlier you ask for help the better the outcome for recovery.

  • Weight loss of at least 15% below normal ideal body weight.
  • Loss of periods or delayed development of puberty.
  • Excessive weight loss through methods such as fasting, food restriction, excessive exercise, use of medications such as laxatives, diet pills and diuretics, purging by vomiting.
  • Some people lose weight merely by restricting, others purge (eg vomit or abuse laxatives), or sometimes a combination of methods.
  • Sufferers have a constant fear of gaining weight, as well as feeling fat, even when their weight is much less than ‘normal’ for their height. Sufferers may feel bloated, even after a small meal.
  • Many sufferers become withdrawn and avoid social activities, particularly those involving food.
  • Feeling cold, lethargy and tiredness, constipation and stomach pains are also common symptoms.
  • Some sufferers also have features of bulimia or swing between anorexia and bulimia.
  • People who do not receive treatment may become chronically ill or even die.
  • Long spells of food restriction or starvation can cause osteoporosis (fragile bones) and damage to the heart, liver, kidneys and brain.
  • Depression is common in sufferers of anorexia.