What is Anorexia Nervosa and Atypical Anorexia Nervosa?
People suffering from anorexia nervosa cut down on their food intake drastically, which causes dramatic weight loss. They will often use tools such as excessive exercise, purging, laxatives, enemas and diuretics to lose more weight.
Most people with anorexia nervosa have a distorted view of their body and an intense fear of gaining weight. One of the most obvious symptoms is anxiety around food, with the person skipping meals, cutting out types of food, being secretive about eating and severely restricting their intake.
The nature of the disorder means anorexia nervosa sufferers may truly believe that they don’t have a problem. The nature of the illness, combined with the effects of malnutrition, often also cause personality changes, mood swings and confrontational behaviour, particularly around food.
It can be difficult to decide if your loved one has an eating disorder or is simply getting carried away with dieting or food fads… or maybe behaving like a ‘typical teenager’.
People with the disorder often make a huge effort to disguise their eating and body changes, and commonly deny that anything is wrong. This is a not a deliberate or deceitful act on their part, but a common characteristic of the disease.
If you think your loved one may have anorexia, look out for these warning signs.
Changes to behaviour
- Skipping meals or refusing to eat
- Being secretive around food
- Cutting out all ‘unhealthy’ foods or eating a limited number of foods
- Making excuses for not eating and denying hunger
- Rigid rituals around food, such as cutting food into tiny pieces
- Weighing and measuring food
- Drinking a lot of water or chewing gum
- Cooking for others but refusing to eat
- Frequently weighing and checking themselves in the mirror
- Excessive exercise
- Purging or vomiting
- Wearing baggy or layered clothing
- Frequent complaints about feeling fat, full, or bloated
- Constant preoccupation with food
Psychological Changes – Anorexia Nervosa
- Distorted perception – a wide gap between self-image and actual appearance
- Difficulty concentrating, restlessness or hyperactivity, forgetfulness
- Poor judgement
- Denial or refusing to acknowledge the severity of the problem
- Obsessive compulsive behaviour
- Depression – loss of interest in friends and activities, lack of spontaneity, lack of initiative, flattened emotional responses, irritability, insomnia and diminished interest in sex.
- Changes in personality or mood swings
Physical Changes – Anorexia Nervosa
- Unusually thin appearance or weight loss (not always dramatic or noticeable)
- Absence of periods in girls and women
- Fatigue, dizziness or fainting
- Brittle nails, hair thinning, breaking or falling out
- Soft, downy hair covering the body
- Constipation and abdominal pain, bloating
- Dry skin
- Feeling cold all the time
- Abnormal blood count
- Irregular heart rhythms, low pulse
- Low blood pressure
- Loss of bone mass
Become a member of EDFA for $25 per year (Australian Carers Only)
EDFA is a proud not for profit, volunteer run organisation.
We invite you to be part of a revolutionary peer support group making positive changes in the Eating Disorder space. Strength in numbers means we are able to affect change and have the collective voice of the carers recognised.
We provide opportunities to connect with other parents and carers who share your experiences… helping you to feel less alone and isolated.
Yearly membership is just $25.
Membership gives access to monthly state-based strive carer support groups, twice monthly education sessions, monthly sibling support, quarterly strive support groups for carers of people with ARFID and Bulimia as well as a group for male carers and access to the members-only National strive Australia page providing connection with & support from fellow parents and carers all over Australia. Members will also receive discounts to eating disorder events and conferences. Daily online support through our striveFacebook pages and the opportunity to connect, share, learn and ask questions is another benefit of being part of our EDFA community.
Your membership helps EDFA with ongoing costs of running a not-for-profit organisation, and importantly, shows Government that families value, need and believe in this type of lived-experience support. Strength in numbers helps EDFA lobby as the collective voice of carers for better services, treatments, access to expert clinicians and specialised ED units, to help our loved ones in their recovery journey and to acknowledge the impact of an eating disorder diagnosis on the entire family unit.
*please note EDFA membership is only available to people living in Australia.