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ItsxJess's avatar

What are the warning signs of anorexia?

Asked by ItsxJess (36points) July 13th, 2009

Are there any warning signs or obvious symptoms one could look for in a person suspected of being anorexic?

For this scenario, let’s say the anorexic in question is a female freshman or sophomore in high school

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14 Answers

Les's avatar

Take a look here for some general information.

willbrawn's avatar

She dosent eat lunch with everyone else.

She says she is on a diet. And starts to lose weight rapidly. 2–3 pounds a week is healthy.

She also starts to lose muscle mass. And her skin will start to be flabby (atleast the case I saw)

My friend is high school died from it. She was super cute, then started losing tons of weight. One day she started coughing up black stuff. The next day she passed away.

And sadily I regret I didn’t try to stop her more than I did.

gailcalled's avatar

If this is a family member, watch how he or she eats during meals. Is there a lot of shoving of food around plate and too many left-evers? Is he or she too rushed to eat breakfast at home?

Alert the school counsellor to have a peek during the person’s lunch hour.

Intervention makes the person angry, but as wilbrawn says, Anexoria kills many young people, both boys and girls.

tedibear's avatar

Along with the above mentioned things, excessive exercising is another symptom. Going for several runs a day, taking multiple aerobics classes in a day, or secretly doing calesthenics (sp?) are examples.

Also, is the person excessively controlling of food? I had a roommate in college who had an eating disorder and she would do stuff like bring a cookie from dinner back to the room with her and leave it on her desk. (It was wrapped in plastic.) She would stare it down like she was having a battle with the food. Which, in her mind, she was. Now that I think of it, she had other control issues, so that could be something to watch for.

marinelife's avatar

“Here are some of the common warning signs that indicate that a person may be suffering from anorexia. The person:

* Is thin and keeps getting thinner, losing 15% or more of her ideal body weight.
* Continues to diet or restrict foods even though she is not overweight.
* Has a distorted body image—feels fat even when she is thin.
* Is preoccupied with food, calories, nutrition, or cooking.
* Denies that she is hungry.
* Exercises obsessively.
* Weighs herself frequently.
* Complains about feeling bloated or nauseated even when she eats normal—or less than normal—amounts of food.
* Loses her hair or begins to experience thinning hair.
* Feels cold even though the temperature is normal or only slightly cool.
* Stops menstruating. ”


JLeslie's avatar

All the advice above sounds right. Also, if she thinks she is fat when she is objectively thin. Also, does she get up from a meal immediately and go to the bathroom (purging/bulimia). Did she recently go through puberty and might feel uncomfortable with sexual attention she is getting.

Siren's avatar

From my own experience with friends and family and this disease, I would have to acknowledge the above comments, plus take a good look at her behavior: Has it changed over the last few months, or year? Is she more withdrawn? Does she complain about not getting any sleep? Combined with her not being observed eating much, listlessness, and how she handles stress – plus obvious weight loss – I would say there would be a 100% diagnosis for anorexia. I’m not too familiar myself with athletes who become anorexic for weight-loss, but the above comments pertaining to that make sense to me. I think athletes start out trying to lose weight, then when they lose the much-needed vitamins by dieting improperly, start to get more depressed and don’t see the big picture anymore, just continue down the unhealthy spiral of anorexic weight loss. Eventually for athletes and non-athletes alike, the brain doesn’t function well on little nutrition and depression runs the entire body. Immediate counselling (to get on anti-depressants) and family support may be the best cure in my opinion: it’s all in the head once anorexia becomes full-blown.

growler's avatar

In many cases, anorexia is not about food. It is about thinness. Keep an eye out for obsession with thinness or perfection, two commonly unnoticed symptoms of anorexia and bulimia. Be sure to keep in mind that someone suffering from an eating disorder can very, very rarely understand the magnitude of their disease. To many, it isn’t even a disease – it is a gift, a way to control things out of their control. It is superiority over those who cannot regulate their own bodies. You can do some reading on pro-ana and pro-mia websites that will give you some more insight into eating disorders.

Most importantly, eating disorders are primarily a disorder of the brain, not the digestive system. It is important to approach anyone with an eating disorder with care and understanding, not confrontation or intervention. Anyone you believe to be truly suffering from an eating disorder should have a psychiatric evaluation as soon as possible, but make sure that it is as non-judgmental as possible. Eating disorder patients need to feel powerful and in control. Help them feel that way without wasting away.

Odysseus's avatar

not eating

gailcalled's avatar

Check out the works on Anexoria Nervosa and family dynamics by Dr. Salvador Minuchin. He wrote the bible on the subject and is considered a world-famous expert.

Siren's avatar

@growler: Well, I agree with you. I truly believe it is a symptom and not the cause. People don’t just stop eating. The body wants food, and it takes a lot to ignore those cravings and hunger pains. I am one of those who did suffer from anorexia in my teens – luckily pretty briefly – and no matter what my body felt my brain wasn’t going to let me eat. In fact, two other siblings went through similar periods as me at other times. In my case (and probably my siblings too) I was going through a depression period, and I just couldn’t find anything to eat that didn’t taste like sandpaper. To enable this further, my family was going through issues too, so were not emotionally available to notice or help me. In fact, there was very little food in the house at the time, which helped enable the disease further. I was like this for a few years. I would get better after 1 year, then slip back into it again the next year, my final year of high school. I had a lot of warm friends, but I tried to cover up my thinness and joked a lot about it, and they just tried to be there for me. Luckily, something changed for me (and I don’t know what that is) but I just started eating more and taking care of myself. I guess I was lucky. Perhaps my depression went away on its own somehow, or my home situation got better and that gave me the incentive to eat again. What I DO know is that if someone can get help, they should…and the sooner the better.

growler's avatar

@Siren Thanks for sharing your story. I think it’s a great illustration of eating disorders and how they act, but I don’t want to distance the story from the person who’s story it is, so I’ll just thank you again.

Siren's avatar

@growler: You’re welcome. And I do hope, in contributing my story and viewpoint, that it has been of any help to the question. I would like to check out gailcalled’s article too. Sounds insightful.

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