Anorexia: Self-starvation and excessive weight loss. The body is denied essential nutrients to function normally so it "slows down" to conserve energy.
- Refusal to maintain body weight at or above a minimally normal weight for height, body type, age, and activity level.
- Intense fear of weight gain or being "fat."
- Feeling "fat" or overweight despite dramatic weight loss.
- Loss of menstrual periods.
- Extreme concern with body weight and shape.
Warning Signs of Anorexia Nervosa:
- Dramatic weight loss.
- Preoccupation with weight, food, calories, fat grams, and dieting.
- Refusal to eat certain foods, progressing to restrictions against whole categories of food (i.e., no carbohydrates, etc.).
- Frequent comments about feeling "fat" or overweight despite weight loss.
- Anxiety about gaining weight or being "fat."
- Denial of hunger.
- Development of food rituals (i.e., eating foods in certain orders, excessive chewing, rearranging food on a plate).
- Consistent excuses to avoid mealtimes or situations involving food.
- Excessive, rigid exercise regimen--despite weather, fatigue, illness, or injury, the need to "burn off" calories taken in.
- Complaints of feeling cold.
- Withdrawal from usual friends and activities.
- In general, behaviors and attitudes indicating that weight loss, dieting, and control of food are becoming primary concerns.
Health Consequences of Anorexia Nervosa: Remember this occurs over time.
- Abnormally slow heart rate and low blood pressure, which mean that the heart muscle is changing. The risk for heart failure rises as heart rate and blood pressure levels sink lower and lower.
- Loss of menstruation leads to reduction of bone density (osteoporosis), which results in dry, brittle bones.
- Muscle loss and weakness.
- Severe dehydration, which can result in kidney failure.
- Fainting, fatigue, and overall weakness.
- Dry hair and skin, hair loss is common.
- Growth of a downy layer of hair called lanugo all over the body, including the face, in an effort to keep the body warm.