Anorexia nervosa, also more commonly just called Anorexia, is a mental health disorder that is characterized by a person’s obsessive efforts to maintain a low weight or to lower their weight through excessive, restrictive dieting and/or excessive exercise. If you’ve ever wondered “Do I have anorexia?” this blog post is for you.
An eating disorder like Anorexia Nervosa is a complex mental health condition that can affect both men and women.
Note: It is extremely difficult to self-diagnose Anorexia, so I recommend that you speak with a qualified medical or mental health professional as soon as possible if you believe you may have Anorexia.
According to the DSM 5th edition, an authoritative volume of mental disorders used by psychologists like myself in treating serious eating disorders like Anorexia Nervosa, someone who has anorexia:
- Believes that they are overweight
- Has a distorted sense of their own weight or appearance
- Is significantly underweight for their size, age, gender
- Is intensely fearful of gaining weight or becoming overweight
- Severely limits their food intake
- May experience episodes of binge eating
- Tries to lose weight through excessive exercising or purging
Signs That You May Have Anorexia Nervosa
Anorexia nervosa is a very serious illness that can lead to starvation and malnutrition, but starvation isn’t the only sign of anorexia. Below are some symptoms you may be experiencing if they have anorexia nervosa:
- You are experiencing dehydration
- You are sleeping more or lack energy like you used to
- If you need to wear a sweater all the time, even when it is warm
- You are underweight from lack of a sufficient caloric intake
- Your extremities, such as your arms and hands, are cold
- If you’re female, you’re no longer having your period
- You notice that your hair is falling out or your nails are brittle
- You notice that your heart is beating irregularly
- You experience dizziness or fainting
- You are constantly thinking about losing weight
- Your self-esteem is connected to how you perceive your body
It’s important that you speak with a doctor right away if they experience any combination of the above symptoms.
Early Warning Signs of Anorexia Nervosa
One of the first signs that you might be developing an eating disorder like Anorexia Nervosa are disordered eating red flags. Most red flags center around the constant obsession with food and weight gain. Here are a few early red flags that you may be developing Anorexia Nervosa:
- You are constantly trying new diets
- You think you are overweight when you look at yourself in the mirror, even when others don’t agree with you
- You measure/weigh your food
- You avoid certain foods because you fear weight gain
- You are jealous of others who you perceive as being thinner than you
- You are told that you’re thin by others
- You constantly think about food, being on a diet, and your weight
- If the way you eat prevents you from doing things with other people
The Different Levels of Care for Getting Help with Anorexia Nervosa
There are five main levels of care to get treatment for Anorexia Nervosa, depending on the severity of symptoms you are experiencing. In order to determine what level of care is most suited to your current needs and symptoms, you must be fully evaluated by a qualified professional and also get a medical work up.
Inpatient is the highest level of care one with Anorexia can get. This level of care is provided in a hospital or in a facility that is licensed as a hospital. Persons with extremely low body weight, medical complications, or who are so symptomatic that they cannot reliably care for themselves are placed in a hospital setting with full medical support.
Residential treatment for Anorexia is a step below inpatient and is provided by a residential treatment center. Patients stay at a residential treatment center around the clock and receive a variety of services to meet their needs. Patients at this level of care are still highly symptomatic and may struggle with motivation but are more medically and psychologically stable than in Inpatient.
For patients with Anorexia in a partial hospitalization setting, overnight stays are not necessary. A patient typically spends 6 to 8 hours in a treatment center receiving therapeutic services. Often they will receive 2 meals at the center and be responsible for doing one meal on their own.
In an intensive outpatient (IOP) setting, a patient must be medically stable and show that they have a motivation for recovery. Intensive Outpatient is most helpful for those who have successfully completed higher levels of care and still benefits from additional structure and accountability.
Outpatient care is for patients who are medically stable with most of their weight restored. Patients are able to feed themselves on their own consistently and appropriately.
Get Treatment for Anorexia in South Florida
Anorexia nervosa treatment and a full recovery is within your grasp. Anorexia nervosa is a serious eating disorder that requires immediate help from a knowledgeable professional. Fortunately there is hope!
I’m Dr. Amy Boyers, a Clinical Psychologist in Miami who specializes in the treatment of eating disorders (all types) and other serious, long-term mental health conditions, including addictions, bipolar disorder treatment, and OCD. I offer personalized and sophisticated eating disorder treatment services, individual and family psychotherapy, family member support and education, in-home meal support, coordination of a treatment service, and much more.
Have you asked “Do I have Anorexia? I’d be happy to help you answer that question. Simply reach out to me and I’ll be sure to answer anything you want to know.
I look forward to helping you obtain a brighter tomorrow.