What is Anorexia Nervosa?

Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder that is characterized by a paralyzing fear of gaining weight and a refusal to maintain a healthy body weight.  Patients severely restrict their food intake and resort to other harmful behaviors in order to remain thin.  Persons suffering from anorexia have an extremely distorted body image and are unable to look in the mirror and see anything other than an overweight and unattractive individual.  Despite their dangerously low weight, anorexia sufferers maintain the erroneous belief that they are overweight or obese.

Anorexia Nervosa first gained public notoriety after the death of singer and musician Karen Carpenter.  Carpenter died of heart failure caused by complications related to her illness in 1983.  Prior to this event, knowledge of Anorexia was limited to the medical profession.  However, since the 1980s the number of people diagnosed with Anorexia has sharply increased.  External pressures from society, including the social pressure to be thin, contribute to the growing number of Anorexia cases that appear each year.

Anorexia is a potentially fatal illness.  Complications of Anorexia Nervosa include anemia, heart problems, bone damage or depletion, major muscle damage, delayed puberty, growth impairments, gastrointestinal problems, electrolyte abnormalities, kidney problems and much more

Signs of Anorexia in Teenagers

The most common symptom of Anorexia in teens is rapid weight loss or a refusal to maintain a healthy body weight. However, there are many more signs of eating disorders in teens that may appear before more obvious symtoms such as lethargy, moodiness or depression, or a preoccupation with food, exercise, eating or thinness.

If you begin to notice any of these signs of unhealthy eating such as calorie restriction, over-exercising or purging, your teen may be in danger. 

Some of the warning signs for Anorexia could include some of the following symptoms:

  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Grayish skin coloring
  • Hair loss or thinning
  • Refusing to eat in front of others and/or hiding food
  • Halitosis (bad breath)
  • Withdrawing from family, avoiding friends, secretive behavior, etc.
  • Periodically engages in binge eating or purging
  • Abdominal expansion
  • Amenorrhea: The absence of three consecutive menstrual cycles
  • Susceptible to cold weather, complains of being physically cold

Treatment for Anorexia Nervosa at Adolescent Growth

At Adolescent Growth, we generate a comprehensive and individualized plan for each and every one of our clients suffering from Anorexia Nervosa.  A team of psychiatrists, medical doctors, licensed clinicians, therapists, licensed nurses, group therapists, academic facilitators, dietitians and other highly trained professionals all work together to create a holistic treatment plan for your suffering teen. Clients are taught healthy ways to cope with stress and maladaptive thoughts in order to replace disordered eating behaviors.  The goal is to develop a normal relationship with food and counter the distorted dialogue that perpetuates this disorder.

We are here to help.  With licensed professionals and our highly trained staff, we invite you or your loved one to begin your healing journey today.