Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service

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Anorexia nervosa

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Anorexia is an eating disorder where you are worried about your weight. So to control your weight or lose weight you eat less and less food and may start to exercise too much.

When does it happen?

You may have lots of things in your life that you can’t control and what you eat is one thing that you feel you can control. You may judge yourself on what you eat and feel you have eaten what is in your eyes too much.

What does Anorexia look like?

You may see yourself as overweight even when others may tell you that you are thin. It may be because you have low self-esteem and want to be popular and want to look like models, celebrities or your friends.

If you have Anorexia you could experience the following symptoms:

  • rapid weight loss
  • difficulty sleeping and concentrating
  • reducing the amount you eat and becoming constipated
  • counting calories
  • panicking about eating with others and about the size of portions eaten
  • being moody or irritable because of the lack of food
  • girls’ periods stopping and boys stop having erections
  • comparing other peoples body size with your own
  • feeling cold a lot of the time and layering your clothes to hide your body size
  • feeling week, depressed and losing interest in activities and socialising with friends and family
  • being unable to get pregnant in the future

What Can I Do?

It can be hard to face up to the fact that you have a problem with your eating, but it’s important that you do.

Start by sharing your worries with someone you trust. Then think about seeing your GP. They may refer you to an eating disorders specialist who you’ll see regularly to help you understand your issues with food and help you start nourishing your body again. In the meantime things you can do to help yourself with your recovery include:

  • Stay away from websites that promote anorexia or restricted eating
  • Take time to relax, recovering from an eating disorder can be stressful so try practicing daily relaxation exercise to calm yourself. Find a quiet room, close your eyes and focus on your breathing, try taking slow breaths, breathing in and out to the count of four.
  • Eat regularly to keep your blood sugar stable. This will help to make you feel calmer.
  • Eating a balanced diet will provide you with energy and the nutrients needed for you to feel well physically and emotionally

What treatments are there?

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) – therapy that focuses on changing how a person thinks about a situation, which in turn will affect how they act
  • Multi-family therapy – therapy involving the family discussing how the eating disorder has affected them and their relationships
For more information on anorexia visit the charities Young Minds and Beat, and see our referral page to find out how you can get help from our services.

Last updated: 8 March, 2018