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Do I have anorexia nervosa?

Anorexia nervosa (AN) is an eating disorder that may manifest differently in different people and can affect people of all ages, genders, sexual orientations, races, body sizes, and ethnicities.1

That's why it's important, when seeking a diagnosis for anorexia nervosa or other eating disorders, to consult a medical professional. These experts will be able to use aspects of your health and history to give you an accurate idea of what's going on.

Still, if you're concerned about the behavior of you or a loved one, taking a "Do I have anorexia" quiz or learning the signs and symptoms of AN can offer more insight into your thoughts and behaviors and help lead you toward the appropriate help.

Last updated on 
November 16, 2023
Do I have anorexia?
In this article

How do I know if I have anorexia nervosa?

Anorexia nervosa is more than a desire to be thin or lose weight. It's an eating disorder defined by an intrusive preoccupation with body size and an intense fear of gaining weight, which leads to eating habits like extreme caloric restriction and a general lack of nourishment.2

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM-5), the three diagnostic criteria of AN are:1
  1. Body image dissatisfaction
  2. Intense weight anxiety
  3. Severe energy intake restriction relative to one's age, gender, and health

Those with this condition will often interfere with any attempts to gain weight, exhibit other behaviors in an attempt to lose weight, and may struggle with co-occurring mental health conditions, including anxiety and depressive disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and substance abuse.4

Do I have anorexia if I eat?

While many people with AN limit their food intake, it's a misconception that all people with this condition refuse to eat at all.

Developing anorexia nervosa is still possible in people who eat. Similar behavior in those who eat more regularly could be the manifestation of certain related conditions or sub-types of anorexia nervosa, including:

Atypical anorexia nervosa (AAN)

A person may develop AAN if they don't have an outwardly recognizable lower body weight, but other anorexia nervosa symptoms are present.7

Binge eating/purging type anorexia

Certain types of anorexia nervosa mimic aspects of bulimia nervosa, including eating disorder behaviors like binge eating and purging.8

Do I have anorexia quiz

Anorexia nervosa is usually a combination of physical, psychological, and behavioral signs and symptoms. For this reason, it's important to have a medical professional evaluate you or your loved one for an official diagnosis.

But if you're wondering, "How do I know if I have anorexia?" taking a "Do I have anorexia quiz" or learning more about the signs and symptoms of anorexia nervosa may help you understand what's going on.

If you relate to some of the below complications, you should contact a medical professional.

Physical symptoms of anorexia nervosa
Psychological and behavioral symptoms of anorexia nervosa

Getting help for anorexia nervosa at Within

Early treatment is essential if you or someone you know is experiencing signs or symptoms of anorexia nervosa. The first step in the recovery process is to find a trusted healthcare program to guide you through the treatment process.

Within offers compassionate, virtual care programs for people with eating disorders. Call our admissions team today to learn how to start treatment.

Disclaimer about "overeating": Within Health hesitatingly uses the word "overeating" because it is the term currently associated with this condition in society, however, we believe it inherently overlooks the various psychological aspects of this condition which are often interconnected with internalized diet culture, and a restrictive mindset about food. For the remainder of this piece, we will therefore be putting "overeating" in quotations to recognize that the diagnosis itself pathologizes behavior that is potentially hardwired and adaptive to a restrictive mindset.

Disclaimer about weight loss drugs: Within does not endorse the use of any weight loss drug or behavior and seeks to provide education on the insidious nature of diet culture. We understand the complex nature of disordered eating and eating disorders and strongly encourage anyone engaging in these behaviors to reach out for help as soon as possible. No statement should be taken as healthcare advice. All healthcare decisions should be made with your individual healthcare provider.

Resources

  1. Anorexia nervosa. (2018, February 28). National Eating Disorders Association. Retrieved June 30, 2023.
  2. Moore, C.A., Bokor, B. (2022, August 29). Anorexia nervosa. StatPearls. Retrieved June 30, 2023.
  3. Anorexia nervosa: What it is, symptoms, diagnosis & treatment. (n.d.). Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved June 30, 2023.
  4. Marucci, S., Ragione, L., De Iaco, G., et. al. (2018). Anorexia Nervosa and Comorbid Psychopathology. Endocrine, Metabolic & Immune Disorders-Drug Targets, 18(4): 316-324.
  5. Eating disorders. (n.d.). National Institute of Mental Health. Retrieved June 30, 2023.
  6. Moskowitz, L., & Weiselberg, E. (2017). Anorexia Nervosa/Atypical Anorexia Nervosa. Current problems in pediatric and adolescent health care, 47(4), 70–84.
  7. Eiring, K., Wiig Hage, T., & Reas, D. L. (2021). Exploring the experience of being viewed as “Not sick enough”: A qualitative study of women recovered from anorexia nervosa or atypical anorexia nervosa. Journal of Eating Disorders, 9(1).
  8. DSM-IV to DSM-5 Anorexia Nervosa Comparison. (n.d.). Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Accessed November 2023.

FAQs

How do I know if I have anorexia nervosa?

You may have anorexia nervosa if you severely limit or significantly restrict the amount and type of food you eat more than you usually would.5

What are the three warning signs of anorexia nervosa?

The three warning signs of anorexia nervosa are restriction of energy intake relative to nutritional requirements, intense fear of gaining weight, and a distorted perception of body image.2

Should I seek out treatment for anorexia nervosa?

You should seek out treatment for anorexia nervosa immediately after you notice or suspect symptoms, as early treatment will provide relief and prevent severe effects.

Further reading

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