Warning signs

Warning sings for Anorexia Nervosa

Extracts from the Brochure "Was Sie über Essstörungen wissen sollten" / "Things you should know about Eating Disorders" by Günther Rathner; 1st edition 1989

Dramatic weight loss of 15% or more without known physical causes potentially responsible for weight loss:

  • Restriction of food, especially of carbohydrates and fats.
  • Denial of hunger.
  • Denial of the problems.
  • Intense fear of gaining weight and an obsessive wish of becoming thin.
  • Absence of or irregular menstruation (women), low level of Testosterone (men).
  • Continuous, nearly obsessive physical exercises despite fatigue and weakness.
  • Unusual food rituals.
  • Cooking for others but not eating with them.
  • Disturbed self-perception concerning weight, body size and/or body shape.
  • Inability to control and to stop weight loss and excessive exercises.
  • Social isolation.
  • Uncommon sensitivity to cold.
  • Perfectionism, accompanied by an intense feeling of worthlessness.
  • Self-induced vomiting, abuse of laxatives and/or diuretics & diet pills…
  • Lanugo hair (fine, soft prenatal white hair on certain parts of the body).


Warning signs for Bulimia Nervosa

  • In general patients show average body weight.
  • It is often not noticed that lots of bulimic persons try to maintain an "artificial low weight" ("sub-optimal weight"). The actual weight influenced by the social "thinness obsession" lays perhaps only a few kilograms under the constitutionally conditioned weight but it can only be maintained by a bulimic behaviour.
  • Dissatisfying feelings concerning body shape and obsession with getting thinner (similar to Anorexia Nervosa).
  • Fear of gaining weight.
  • Uncontrollable, secretly hidden episodes of bulimic binges followed by attempts to get rid of all by excessive physical activity, self-induced vomiting, diets or abuse of laxatives, diuretics or slimming pills.
  • Depression and permanent mood swings.
  • Intensified physical activity for weight-control.
  • Inability to stop the binge-purge-cycle.
  • Pain in the throat, stomach and bowels.
  • Skin oedemas (water accumulations), severe pain and swelling in the glands (from the neck to the lower jaw; similar to mumps).
  • Toothache and tooth destruction.
  • Emotional instability and impulsivity.
  • Irregular or absent menstruation (Amenorhoea).
  • Frequent weight fluctuations.