Early warning signs of anorexia nervosa
Facing an eating disorder, like anorexia nervosa (AN), in your own life or that of a loved one can be a daunting task. Current research indicates that early detection and intervention are crucial for decreasing the risk of long term illness and severe medical complications from these disorders. (5)
As there is no guaranteed way to prevent AN, early detection of warning signs of anorexia, and intervention offer the greatest opportunity to heal from this eating disorder. Educating yourself and your community about the warning signs of AN can help create supportive allies for those struggling and make sure that they know they do not need to suffer alone in silence. Community support can help reduce feelings of shame and isolation for individuals with AN and other EDs and enable earlier access to specialized treatment and support. (1,2)
According to the National Eating Disorder Association, AN warning signs can be divided into two main categories, emotional/behavioral signs and physical signs. (3) It is also important to note the impact of risk factors associated with the development of this eating disorder, and be especially aware of early signs of AN developing in individuals who are at higher risk for the illness.
While the reasons that any individual develops AN are complex and unique, being attentive to common warning sizes in yourself and others in your life, especially children, can help facilitate early detection and intervention. The following signs and risks are common but not universal, as AN can develop in people of any body size and not every person with the disorder will exhibit every single associated behavior.