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Perfect Illusions: Eating Disorders and the Family
Eating Disorders
Anorexia Nervosa in Males
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Anorexia is a life-threatening disorder that is characterized by self-starvation and excessive weight loss.

Behavioral characteristics:

  • Excessive dieting, fasting, restricted diet.
  • Food rituals.
  • Preoccupation with body building, weight lifting or muscle toning.
  • Compulsive exercise.
  • Difficulty eating with others; lying about eating.
  • Frequently weighing self.
  • Preoccupation with food.
  • Focus on certain body parts, such as buttocks, thighs, stomach, etc.
  • Disgust with body size or shape.
  • Distortion of body size: feels fat even though others tell him he is already very thin.
Emotional and mental characteristics:
  • Intense fear of becoming fat or gaining weight.
  • Depression.
  • Social isolation; difficulty expressing feelings.
  • Strong need to be in control.
  • Rigid, inflexible thinking, "all or nothing."
  • Decreased interest in sex or fears around sex.
  • Possible conflict over gender identity or sexual orientation.
  • Low sense of self-worth; uses weight as a measure of worth.
  • Perfectionism: strives to be the neatest, thinnest, smartest, etc.
  • Difficulty thinking clearly or concentrating.
  • Irritability, denial, belief that others are overreacting to low weight or caloric restriction.
  • Insomnia.
Physical characteristics:
  • Low body weight (15% or more below what is expected for age, height and activity level).
  • Lack of energy, fatigue.
  • Muscular weakness.
  • Decreased balance, unsteady gait.
  • Lowered body temperature, blood pressure, pulse rate.
  • Tingling in hands and feet.
  • Thinning hair or hair loss.
  • Lanugo (downy growth of body hair).
  • Heart arrhythmia.
  • Lowered testosterone levels.

Provided by the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA)
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