Anorexia Nervosa

ladyinlakeAnorexia nervosa is an eating disorder wherein people severely obsess about weight and food. They attempt to weigh far below normal for their age and height. In order to keep from gaining weight or to continue losing weight, they may starve themselves and/or exercise excessively, and purge on occasion using diuretics, laxatives, and enemas as well as vomiting after eating.

Anorexia nervosa isn’t about food. It’s unhealthy, misguided, injurious behavior constructed to achieve and maintain a sense of emotional stability. People with anorexia often equate thinness with self-worth.

Anorexia nervosa can be difficult to overcome. That said, with professional treatment and counseling a person can gain a healthier sense of self, embrace nutritious eating habits and reverse some of anorexia’s serious complications.

There are a number of physical, emotional and behavioral signs and symptoms of anorexia:

Physical signs and symptoms of anorexia nervosa:

  • Extreme weight loss–approaching 75%-85% of normal weight
  • Thin appearance–often hidden under layers of clothing unsuitable for the temperature
  • Abnormal blood counts
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • A bluish discoloration of the fingers
  • Hair that thins, breaks or falls out
  • Soft, downy hair covering the body
  • Absence of menstruation
  • Constipation
  • Dry skin
  • Intolerance of cold
  • Irregular heart rhythms
  • Low blood pressure
  • Dehydration
  • Osteoporosis
  • Swelling of arms or legs

Emotional and behavioral characteristics associated with anorexia include:

  • Refusal to eat
  • Denial of hunger
  • Extreme fear of gaining weight
  • Lying about how much food has been eaten
  • Excessive exercise
  • Flat mood (lack of emotion)
  • Social withdrawal
  • Irritability
  • Preoccupation with food
  • Reduced interest in sex
  • Depressed mood
  • Possible use of laxatives, diet aids or herbal products

For Your Austin Counseling Convenience

For more information, please call (512) 306-9992, or send an email to All inquiries are held in strict confidence. Please understand that no counseling will be provided via the Internet or e-mail. Working with you in person is the best way to help you achieve your goals.

Daytime and selected early-evening sessions are available, Tuesday through Thursday 10:00am to 6:30pm. You may choose from three types of sessions: individual, couples, and family. Please feel free to ask about other possibilities to fit your lifestyle and needs.

Ann McIntosh, MA, LCSW, Counseling and Psychotherapy

4407 Bee Cave Road
Building 5, Suite 513
Austin, Texas 78746


Video produced by Michael Quick of QuickOne Media Ann McIntosh is also listed on the following Web site directories: Psychology Today | | Eating Disorder Referral and Information Service

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