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What is it

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder.

People with anorexia worry all the time about food, eating, their body weight or the shape of their body. They eat very little or exercise too much, which can mean they lose a lot of weight. As a result, people with anorexia can experience physical symptoms such as fatigue and loss of periods as well as psychological symptoms such as feeling low and withdrawing from friends and family.

Feelings and behaviours

  • Being preoccupied with (or your mind being very full of thoughts about) weight, food, nutritional information like calories and fat grams, or dieting
  • Making frequent comments about feeling ‘fat’
  • Not being able to maintain a body weight that’s appropriate for your age, height, and build
  • Being really concerned about your body size and shape
  • Trying to stick to an excessive, rigid exercise regime – despite weather, fatigue, illness, or injury
  • Being uncomfortable eating around others
  • Withdrawing from usual friends and activities
  • Having extreme mood swings
  • Chewing your food excessively (a lot more than you need to)
  • Dressing in layers to hide your weight loss or stay warm

Physical signs

  • Losing lots of weight (this might be rapid, which means it happens very quickly)
  • Changes in periods or being unable to get an erection
  • Digestive problems or constipation
  • Difficulties concentrating
  • Dizziness, especially when you stand up
  • Fainting (you might hear this being called syncope)
  • Your bones getting thinner
  • Feeling cold all the time
  • Sleep problems
  • Dental problems (such as tooth decay and gum disease)
  • Dry skin and hair, brittle nails, and hair loss from your scalp
  • Fine, downy (soft) hair growing on body
  • Muscle weakness (including to your heart muscle)
  • Feeling very tired
  • Swollen feet and ankles

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