What are the Signs of Anorexia in Teenagers?

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  • Written By: Kelly Ferguson
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 23 July 2019
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Some of the signs of anorexia in teenagers include behavioral changes like severely restricting eating habits and attempting to avoid being around and eating food. Many anorexic teenagers develop rituals surrounding food, such as arranging the food on the plate in a particular order or chewing each bite a specific, large number of times, often in an attempt to maintain control over hunger. Weight loss may be the most well-known symptom, however, other physical changes, such as muscle loss, weakness or tiredness, and amenorrhea, may also be signs of anorexia.

Anorexia causes the person to believe he or she is fat regardless of the actual amount of body fat. As a result, even drastically underweight sufferers of anorexia will almost always demonstrate an extreme fear of gaining weight, and may rebel at the concern of a friend or family member. Obsessions with food are not uncommon, ranging from counting exact calories to eliminating entire food groups from the diet. Anorexic teenagers are also more likely to become depressed, irritated, and upset over small things.


Anorexia in teenagers is usually accompanied by secrecy or deception concerning food, often in an attempt to disguise the disorder from concerned parents. Anorexics sometimes push the food around on the plate to make it look like some of the food has been eaten. Anorexics are more likely to hide the condition with excuses than to ask for help. For example, an anorexic teenager might claim that he or she ate a meal at school or at a friend’s house in an excuse not to eat dinner with the family. Some anorexic teenagers will secretly use medications, diet pills, or laxatives to lose weight or prevent weight gain.

Excessive exercise paired with extremely low calorie intake is highly indicative of anorexia in teenagers, but the struggle to maintain this lifestyle is extraordinarily taxing, both physically and emotionally. Some pro-anorexia support groups, generally made up of other anorexics, offer pictures of emaciated models as “thinspiration.” Many anorexics use this tactic to stay motivated, keeping and looking at pictures of underweight models, either in plain sight or hidden.

Dry skin, brittle bones, and hair loss are signs of malnutrition from advanced anorexia in teenagers. It also leads to low blood pressure and a weak pulse, which can cause fainting spells. Signs or symptoms of anorexia in teenagers should never be ignored because anorexia is a serious, potentially deadly illness.



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