Symptoms of Anorexia and Bulimia

Mandel Center of Arizona pic
Mandel Center of Arizona
Image: mandelcenter.com

Alyssa Mandel has owned and operated the Mandel Center of Arizona in Scottsdale for more than 12 years. In that time, Alyssa Mandel has treated many patients with such eating disorders as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.

Although they may present very differently, anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa both involve unhealthy and maladaptive behaviors regarding food. Both are approximately 10 times more common in women than in men, and both typically feature increasing worry about weight.

In patients with anorexia, this worry manifests as fastidiously restricted eating. Individuals with this disorder continuously reduce their food intake in an effort to lose weight, even if they have reached a dangerously low weight considering height and age. Preoccupation with weight may also present in the patient with anorexia as fastidious exercise, frequent weight-checking, and hiding the body with loose-fitting clothing.

Patients with bulimia, by contrast, respond to their emotional and mental distress by binge eating. They acquire and consume large quantities of food and eat much more than a normal meal’s worth, most often secretively. The individual with bulimia often feels that he or she cannot control this binge eating, despite the physical discomfort and feelings of shame and depression that follow.

A person with bulimia will typically seek to resolve this discomfort by ridding himself or herself of the vast quantities of food eaten, either by vomiting or through use of a laxative. This process of binging and purging becomes cyclical and compulsive, despite its unpleasant effects on body and mind.

Warning Signs of Anorexia

Mandel Center of Arizona pic
Mandel Center of Arizona
Image: mandelcenter.com

Alyssa Mandel is a master of social work graduate of Columbia University and the founder of the Mandel Center of Arizona in Scottsdale. In her practice, Alyssa Mandel collaborates with psychiatrists, social workers, and nutritionists, to provide the highest level of comprehensive care for clients.

Individuals with anorexia often are adept at hiding their eating habits. With that in mind, here are some warning signs to watch for if you believe someone close to you may have the disease.

Early warning signs typically manifest themselves as an unhealthy preoccupation with food intake and/or obsessive dieting. This preoccupation with food and its relationship to body image will eventually morph into disordered eating patterns. Consistently skipping meals, denying hunger after long periods of not eating, obsession with body image, and making excuses for lack of eating are all early warning signs.

In the more advanced stages, individuals typically tend to push themselves to excessive and unhealthy levels of exercise and weight themselves constantly. Obsessively checking the mirror and complaining about weight are other signs that tend to manifest themselves, as well as decreased and/or flat moods, displaying a lack of emotional response to the world around them.

Left untreated, anorexia can be a life-threatening condition, even if the individual is not dramatically underweight. The behavior can bring about abnormal heart function and electrolyte imbalances that can eventually cause significant heart complications.