Common Signs & Symptoms of Anorexia

Article Contributed By Staff of The Meadows Ranch

Woman Contemplating Her Struggling With Anorexia

For most people, anorexia is extremely difficult to understand. It is not a diet gone too far or a game played by a young girl to get attention from friends or a member of the family.

Anorexia is a psychiatric disorder, not unlike depression or anxiety. Very simply defined, anorexia is self-starvation.

Those with this disorder literally starve themselves to a state of severe emaciation or even death. Once an individual begins engaging in this disorder, it is very difficult to end the behaviors and go back to normal eating. This disease impacts everything: work, home, health, friendships … life

Understanding Anorexia Symptoms

Anorexia symptoms are biological, emotional, psychological and behavioral. Because restriction is a characteristic behavior of anorexia, many of the most common symptoms surround food and dieting.

A female with anorexia typically diets obsessively, whether or not she might be overweight. Obsessive dieting may result in a recent rapid weight loss, though the DSM-5 criteria do not refer to a specific degree of weight loss required for the anorexia diagnosis [1].

A woman with anorexia might constantly complain that she feels “fat,” when this is clearly not a reality. Frequent weighing, even several times in one day, is fairly standard. Though dieting is always on her mind, so is the topic of food.

It is not unusual for those with anorexia to have an extreme preoccupation with food, calories, nutrition, and/or cooking. As an extension of this, a person with this eating disorder often talks about food a great deal.

Common Signs of Anorexia

A girl or woman with anorexia almost never eats, yet she typically denies being hungry. Of course, this is not true at all. When she actually does consume food, it is not unusual for her to engage in strange food-related behaviors. These include cutting food into little tiny pieces, only eating one food at a time, or placing unusual condiments on food items.

Woman Standing In The Middle Of The Street Looking Up

Episodes of binge eating can also occur, simply due to a loss of control. Remember, these individuals are hungry, so when they finally give in and eat, it is sometimes very difficult to stop.

Not eating is hard enough on the body, but the problem is, she may also exercise to an extreme degree. As a result of low nutrition and high levels of exercising, she will probably experience amenorrhea, which means loss of her menstrual period.

Strangely, though the hair on her head may fall out, she may undergo unusual hair growth on her arms and legs; basically, this is an effort by the body to make itself warm.

Although she may try to convey that she is at the top of the world, depression is often a symptom of anorexia, as is slowness of thought and memory difficulties. Most people feel this way due to the brain’s inability to function without adequate nutrition.

Seeking Out Treatment and Care

If someone you know has anorexia, please encourage them to get help to treat an eating disorder. Comprehensive treatment with a multidisciplinary team is often required to fully recover from anorexia.

Since 1990, Remuda Ranch has treated more than 8,000 women and girls. Remuda offers three distinct eating disorder treatment programs for children, adolescent girls, and adults.

Recovery from an eating disorder is possible and is happening every day.


[1]: Brian C. Harrington, MD, MPH, et al. Initial evaluation Diagnosis, and Treatment of Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia. Am Fam Physician. 2015 Jan 1;91(1):46-52

Article Contributed by Staff of The Meadows Ranch:

For over 25 years, The Meadows Ranch has offered an unparalleled depth of care through its unique, comprehensive, and individualized program for treating eating disorders and co-occurring conditions affecting adolescent girls and women. Set on scenic ranch property in the healing landscape of Wickenburg, Arizona, The Meadows Ranch allows for seamless transitions between its structured multi-phase treatment. A world-class clinical team of industry experts leads the treatment approach designed to uncover and understand the “whys” of the eating disorder through a host of proven modalities. Providing individuals with tools to re-engage in a healthy relationship with food – and with themselves – disempowers eating disorders and empowers individuals with a renewed enthusiasm for life. Contact us today at 888-496-5498 and find out why The Meadows Ranch is the best choice for eating disorder treatment and recovery. For more information call 1-888-496-5498.. or visit

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Edited & Published on June 16, 2017
Recently Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on July 2, 2018
Published on, Eating Disorder Help