Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia is a disorder (or illness) which stems from low self esteem and an inability to cope safely with worries and problems. It involves lowering your food intake by skipping meals and cutting down the types and amounts of food you eat; some people over-exercise as well. You may believe that if you lose weight your life would be happier, people will like you more, you will be more successful or even perhaps that you may be noticed less.

You may try to find ways of punishing yourself if you don’t lose enough weight or eat something you would not usually eat. Losing weight is not the answer to everything. It is important that you try and focus on who you are, and what may have caused you to feel the way you do. Try to change the way you feel about yourself and aim to find safer ways of coping.

 “I thought about food and calories all the time. I tried to avoid foods containing lots of fat or carbohydrates and only had ‘safe’ foods which I felt were okay to eat.”   

"I had a 'voice' in my head that shouted at me. It told me I was fat and worthless and that I was not allowed to eat because I did not deserve food. I thought I was in control of my eating but it got harder and harder to ignore the voice."

Your body

Physical symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa

  • Severe weight loss
  • Difficulty sleeping and tiredness
  • Dizziness
  • Stomach pains
  • Constipation
  • Feeling cold
  • Growth of downy (soft and fine) hair all over your body (called Lanugo)
  • (girls) Your Periods stop or don’t start (amenorrhoea)
  • Your hair falls out
  • Feeling fat when you are really underweight
  • Getting irritable and moody
  • Setting high standards and being a perfectionist
  • Shutting yourself off from the world
  • Thinking things are either right or wrong, there is no in between
  • Difficulty concentrating

How you think and feel

Psychological symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa

“I had a ‘voice’ in my head that shouted at me. It told me I was fat and worthless and that I was not allowed to eat because I did not deserve food. I thought I was in control of my eating but it got harder and harder to ignore the voice.”

“As I lost weight I began to feel tired and this made me more depressed. I couldn’t think straight or concentrate at school. All I could think about was food because my brain and body was craving for it.  I realise now I was suffering from the effects of starvation.”

Things you might be doing

Behavioural symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa

You might not even realise you are doing some of these things or you might know that you are doing them but can't seem to stop. Help and support with this is available, click here for more information on getting help.

  • Excessive exercising
  • Having ritual or obsessive behaviours
  • Being secretive
  • Lying about eating
  • Trying to please everyone
  • Cooking or preparing food for everyone else
  • Wearing baggy clothes

“Sometimes I skipped meals and did a lot of exercise especially on the days when I could not avoid eating. I felt I had to punish myself for eating and try to lose the calories I had eaten.”

“Losing weight gave me a real buzz and I felt good at something. At first, starving myself and over-exercising made me feel great and that I had loads of energy. Later I found out that this was an ‘artificial high’ and that it was my body’s way of telling me to find food.”

  • Helpline
    0845
    634 1414
  • Youthline
    0845
    634 7650

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