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Signs and Symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa

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Quick Links: Quiz: Does Your Teen Have Anorexia Nervosa? | All Anorexia Nervosa in Teens Resources

Anorexia nervosa, a type of eating disorder, is characterized by constant worry about becoming fat and a refusal to maintain a healthy weight. Even when a teen is emaciated she looks in the mirror and sees herself as over-weight. A significantly distorted body image is a classic symptom of this eating disorder that is destructive to a growing teen's body, and can be life-threatening. Female teens are the most vulnerable to developing this disorder but it can also develop in male teens, who are often not correctly diagnosed.

The Warning Signs of Anorexia in Teens Include:

  • An obsession with being thin
  • Constant worry about the amount of calories in food
  • Refusing to eat
  • Reluctant to eat in front of others
  • Making excuses for not eating, such as claiming to be vegan
  • Excessive physical exercise to loose weight
  • Obsessing about clothing size
  • Skipping meals
  • Denying being underweight
  • Intense interest in food labels
  • Developing eating rituals, such as cutting up food into very small pieces
  • Lying about the amount of food actually eaten
  • Constant weighing
  • Frequently looking at their body in the mirror
  • Terrified of gaining weight
  • Frequent use of diet pills or laxatives
  • Wearing baggy clothing to hide weight loss
  • Significant weight loss
  • Complaining of being fat when below normal weight
  • Constant comments about body size and shape
  • Avoiding social events, especially those where food is served

The Impact of Anorexia on Teens

  • Malnutrition
  • Fatigue
  • Organ failure
  • Heart disease
  • Muscle weakness
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Loss of menstrual periods
  • Poor concentration and memory
  • Dry skin or nails
  • Moodiness and irritability
  • Death

Eating disorders are complex, with both physical and emotional components. If you have any concerns that your teen may have anorexia, seek professional assistance from a physician or mental health professional. Early intervention improves the chances for a teens' successful recovery.

Quick Links: Quiz: Does Your Teen Have Anorexia Nervosa? | All Anorexia Nervosa in Teens Resources

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