Anorexia Nervosa: Symptoms & Signs

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Medically Reviewed on 2/7/2019

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder often characterized by a distorted body image. There is significant weight loss and difficulty maintaining an appropriate body weight. The exact cause of anorexia is not well understood, but it involves a combination of self-esteem and body-image issues, genetic factors, and societal pressures.

Symptoms of anorexia nervosa can include restricting food intake, compulsive exercise, overuse of laxatives, extreme weight loss, and preoccupation with weight, food, calories, and diet. Poor nutritional status and weight loss can also cause symptoms throughout the body. Examples of possible associated signs and symptoms are dizziness, constipation, feeling cold, sleep disturbances, irregular menstruation, muscle weakness, poor wound healing, thinning hair, damage to enamel of the teeth, delayed puberty, and difficulty concentrating.


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/7/2019

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