Anorexia nervosa is characterized by a range of emotional, behavioral, and physical symptoms. The following are some common characteristics associated with anorexia nervosa:
- Distorted body image: Individuals with anorexia nervosa have a distorted perception of their body size and shape. They may perceive themselves as overweight, even when they are significantly underweight.
- Intense fear of gaining weight: People with anorexia nervosa have an extreme and irrational fear of gaining weight or becoming fat. This fear often leads to restrictive eating habits and an obsession with weight control.
- Restrictive eating patterns: Anorexia nervosa is characterized by severely restricting food intake and calories, leading to significant weight loss. Individuals may engage in extreme dieting, restrictive eating, and avoid certain food groups.
- Excessive exercise: People with anorexia may engage in excessive and compulsive exercise to burn calories and lose weight. They may push themselves to extreme physical limits, even when they are fatigued or injured.
- Distorted eating behaviors: Anorexia nervosa may involve rituals and rules around food. This can include cutting food into tiny pieces, rearranging food on the plate, or avoiding eating in public.
- Body dissatisfaction: Individuals with anorexia nervosa are highly dissatisfied with their bodies, constantly striving for thinness and a perceived ideal body shape.
- Emotional and psychological changes: Anorexia nervosa often leads to emotional and psychological disturbances, including depression, anxiety, irritability, social withdrawal, perfectionism, and low self-esteem.
- Physical changes: Anorexia nervosa can have severe physical consequences due to malnutrition and weight loss. Physical symptoms may include extreme weight loss, fatigue, dizziness, low blood pressure, brittle nails, hair loss, dry skin, and the development of fine body hair (lanugo).
- Denial of the seriousness of low body weight: Individuals with anorexia nervosa may deny or downplay the severity of their low body weight and the negative impact it has on their health.
It’s important to note that not all individuals with anorexia nervosa will exhibit the same set of symptoms, and the severity of these symptoms can vary. If you or someone you know is displaying signs of anorexia nervosa, it is crucial to seek professional help from healthcare providers and mental health specialists who can provide an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.