The purpose of this writing is to keep you or anyone you know from dying from extreme anorexia nervosa. It is a guide to help you recognize the symptoms and stages of the disorder and seek help yourself or intervene with someone you know if you suspect the disorder is at work.
The earlier you recognize it, the better the chances of recovery. The symptoms and stages, of course, vary with the individual. The following information is given simply as a general guideline to assist one in realizing what is happening. Stage 1 might be suspected if a couch potato type suddenly seems obsessed with exercise. Of course exercise in its own right is a good thing.
The key word here is “obsessed”. If one suddenly goes from being the couch potato to vigorous exercise for several hours a day, every day, something unusual is happening. Stage 2 is suggested if the same individual also becomes more obsessed with the exercise regimen, coupled with unusual focus on food and eating habits – i.e. when was my last meal? Exactly what did I eat? The target is to eat only enough to function while losing weight dramatically. A gaunt, pale face and exaggerated circles under the eyes will develop as this regime continues.
Stage 4 may be a more private behavior and difficult for family and friends to witness. While some anorexics follow this behavior in public, many keep this symptom private. The anorexic becomes obsessed with the image in the mirror. Are ribs or other bones showing? Frequent or constant checking becomes common.
Stage 5 is the point that it becomes crucial for someone to recognize the anorexia and seek treatment quickly. If not arrested by this point, the downward spiral whirls faster and the anorexia is becoming literally life threatening. By now the sufferer is probably unable to do anything about it without help. The individual is having fainting episodes and counting the days he or she can go without eating before fainting occurs. Stage 6 finds the sufferer fainting more frequently, possibly bleeding from the nose, and with virtually no energy.
Observers cannot miss the incredibly thin bodies at this stage. There remains almost no tissue between the skin and the protruding bones. It is impossible to overstate the importance of keeping an eye out to your own exercise and eating habits, and those of your family and friends. If you suspect the killer disorder anorexia nervosa has set in, your intervention may be the only thing between life and death. Don’t hesitate to act in time!