Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder which involves a preoccupation with restriction of food and thinness. Living with anorexia is often about control. You may feel as though you can’t stop following certain rigid rules around food, body, and exercise. Your goal of a specific weight continues to change, and the dissatisfaction with your body controls your eating habits.

Anorexia can numb you, as the disorder creates a hollow detachment from everything – your feelings, relationships, etc. The coping skills that individuals with anorexia develop, while maladaptive, serve a purpose. Anorexia is a sophisticated way of coping in a world that feels out of control. It is a safety mechanism that is biologically-based. Anorexia isn’t your fault. Think of how you would feel if this void was filled with less control and rigidity and more possibility.


How Do You Recognize the Symptoms?

Many believe that a person with anorexia simply restricts food and looks too thin. Although this may be true some of the time, we know this isn’t always the case. People at any weight can suffer from anorexia. Anorexia is triggered biologically in the brain typically after experiencing a difficult relationship, struggling with depression or dealing with stress or bullying. Experiencing a loss can also trigger a need to control your feelings.

If you are experiencing any symptom of anorexia, it’s important to seek treatment from a certified eating disorder specialist. Recovery is possible. The first step is to know the signs of anorexia which include:

Anorexia Symptoms

  • Extreme weight loss (sometimes)
  • Thin appearance
  • Abnormal blood counts
  • Elevated liver enzymes
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Seizure
  • Brittle nails
  • Hair that thins, breaks or falls out
  • Absence of menstruation (amenorrhea)
  • Development of fine hair on the extremities (lanugo)
  • Constipation
  • Dry skin
  • Intolerance of cold
  • Irregular heart rhythms
  • Low blood pressure
  • Dehydration
  • Osteoporosis, the loss of bone calcium, which may result in broken bones

Aside from these signs, control is one of the main identifiers of anorexia.

You may find yourself oddly fixated on the need to be perfect, especially when it comes to your body and weight. Thoughts about food, body, and exercise can dominate and challenge your life. Nothing is good enough. You may control food by avoiding social events or refusing meals. If this sounds familiar, it may be time to seek help. There are ways to prevent this disorder from getting worse.

Other common characteristics of someone with anorexia include:

Difficulties with communication.

You may have difficulty asserting yourself and your needs. This can create confusion and misunderstanding in relationships, especially if you struggle with accessing your emotions, which is also common in individuals with anorexia.

Commonly hides oneself.

This is how anorexia often starts in the first place. There is an intense desire to hide and disappear. While a false façade, individuals believe that anorexia keeps them safe.

If these symptoms and/or characteristics sound familiar, you may consider asking yourself, “What is my relationship with food?”

This may seem like a simple question, but anorexia treatment goes beneath the surface to understand the complexity of the answer. A certified eating disorder specialist can connect the dots between food restriction, exercise, isolation, perfectionism, emotional avoidance, relationships, school, and work.

We know how to help.

When you are scared and don’t know what to do, breaking the cycle is key. While you may feel ambivalent towards recovery, our professionals are trained in the treatment of anorexia along with common co-occurring challenges, such as anxiety, family issues, depression, codependency, school problems, bipolar disorder, self-harm, and other mood and behavioral problems.

Why should I seek an eating disorder specialist?

Treating eating disorders requires its own language and boundaries. One word about food can trigger a negative moment for someone with an eating disorder. There are medical standards that must be understood to treat restriction. Anorexia is also one of the most severe mental health disorders so it is important to have a specialist on your team. Treatment requires dedication, knowledge, and adherence to ethical standards established by the Academy for Eating Disorders to ensure you receive the care required for recovery. A specialist knows how to identify the connections between various disorders and how to treat them. Therapists who specialize in anxiety, depression, or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may not know how to truly address the intensity of eating disorders.

Can you offer skills and insight?

Yes. We will help you to develop more awareness as to why your eating disorder began in the first place. Through this awareness and reflective process, you will gain the strength and renewal you deserve.

For someone who is a perfectionist, obsessive behavior is difficult to challenge. We know how to create space between your impulses and urges and your behaviors. We are trained in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and integrated psychodynamic approaches and will help you utilize new skills to build awareness. You then will have the power to challenge not only your thoughts but also your actions.

You are not alone. There is hope.

Contact Us for a no charge, no judgment, no commitment