How to Identify Anorexia Nervosa


Identify how Anorexia Nervosa Starts. The disorder typically appears between 14 and 18 years of age but can appear at any age. Approximately .5% of women in the western world will develop anorexia nervosa and ten times that many will display at least some symptoms.

The disorder often starts when a person is slightly overweight, or normal weight, and has been on a diet. Sometimes the diet escalates to anorexia nervosa following a stressful event such as a parent's divorce, a move away from home, or an experience of personal failure.

Becoming thin becomes the key goal for people with anorexia nervosa. The fear of being obese provides their motivation to continue starving themselves. This fear is often related to the growing desire to eat and a more general fear of losing control over the size and shape of their bodies.


Be aware of the role of food. Despite their fear of food and becoming obese, people with anorexia nervosa are preoccupied with food. They often spend considerable time thinking and even reading about food and planning their restricted calorie meals. Many people with anorexia report that their dreams are filled with images of food and eating.


Ask questions about your loved ones feelings regarding their body. If you are trying to identify anorexia nervosa it is important to understand people with anorexia nervosa also think in distorted ways. It is common to have a low opinion of their body shape and many consider themselves unattractive. Additionally, they are more likely to overestimate their actual size and believe they are bigger than they actually are.


Stay alert for medical complications due to anorexia nervosa. The continuous starvation habits of anorexia nervosa can cause several medical conditions. Amenorrhea is the absence of one's menstrual cycles; this is typical for women who suffer from anorexia.

Other problems can include low body temperature, low blood pressure, body swelling, reduced bone density, and slow heart rate. Heart failure or circulatory collapse can also occur due to metabolic and electrolyte imbalances.


Research your treatment options if you identify anorexia nervosa in your loved one. Anorexia nervosa treatment has an immediate aim of helping the individual regain their lost weight. Recovering from the malnourishment and helping the individual eat normally is the top priority in treatment. After the immediate medical danger has been addressed, therapists then help the person make the psychological and environmental changes they need to stay healthy.

Check out the resources section at the bottom of this page for more useful eating disorder articles.

Tips and Warnings

  • The more people you get involved in a person's treatment plan the more likely you are to have a positive outcome. If you believe your loved one has anorexia nervosa team up with all the other loved ones in their life.
  • If you believe your loved one has anorexia nervosa it is important that you seek help from a medical professional or mental health practitioner.