Atypical Anorexia - Signs & Symptoms

Written by: Tanvi Vinay Gangavali – MA (Clinical Psychology)
Last updated date : January 26, 2022

There are many stigmas and ideas related to eating disorders. So for example, many people think that anorexia is related to very low body weight or a lot of weight loss. This article helps to know what Atypical Anorexia Nervosa is and its symptoms of it.

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Chapter 1:

What Is Atypical Anorexia Nervosa

Atypical anorexia nervosa (AAN) refers to certain cases of anorexia nervosa (AN) that do not follow the regular pattern. Also, most AAN cases meet all the criteria of AN, without weight loss. For example, the person may have an extreme fear of being fat or of any weight changes. They also have abnormal eating and feeding behaviours. These can be calorie counting or cutting out certain foods.

Chapter 2:

What Is AN and AAN?

Both are eating disorders that affect your weight and body image. Also, they are exactly the same except for one difference:
  • People with AN have very low body weight.
  • In AAN, people have normal to above normal body weight.
  • Also, people with AN and AAN avoid or do not take food to change their weight.
  • Both might use exercise a lot, binge eats or use vomiting or laxatives to throw food out of the body.

Chapter 3:

Atypical Anorexia- Symptoms

  • Skipping meals
  • Eating small portions of food
  • Feeling uncomfortable with eating when others are there.
  • Having a lot of water or non-caloric drinks.
  • Showing a lot of concern about weight and shape
  • Having stomach cramps
  • Other stomach related issues
  • Eating lesser than the energy needs of the body.
  • Fear of gaining weight
  • Not very good self-image
  • Not accepting that it is a severe issue and needs help.
  • Criticizing body shape and weight.

Chapter 4:

Atypical Anorexia Signs & Symptoms

The signs and symptoms for the disorder which are defined by The American Psychiatry Association are:
Emotional and Behavioral
  • Dressing in many layers of clothes to hide weight loss.
  • Constantly thinking about weight, food, calories, fat grams, and dieting
  • Not eating certain foods.
  • Avoiding whole food categories
  • Having food rituals
  • Skipping meals
  • Taking a small quantity of food at regular meals
  • Drinking a lot of water
  • Exercising more and being rigid about it.
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Feeling dizzy.
  • Fainting spells.
  • Sleep issues.
  • Dry skin
  • Poor wound healing
  • Low immunity.

Chapter 5:

Effects of Atypical Anorexia

AAN can also have short term and long term effects. The effects are as follows-
Short-Term Effects
Short-term effects may result in the following issues such as-
  • Cardiac arrhythmias
  • Chest pain
  • Low levels of body parameters.
  • Myocardial infarction
  • Sudden rise in heart rate
Long-Term Effects
Long-term effects may result in the following medical problems:
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Cirrhosis
  • Diabetes
  • Degenerative joint disease
  • Death

Chapter 6:

Dangers of Having Atypical Anorexia

There are many dangers related to AAN. But, if managed well then can help the person.
  1. People with AAN may not even realize that they have this issue.
  2. Moreover, they refuse to seek the professional and appropriate help needed for recovery.
  3. People with this disorder might have other mental health issues such as depression or anxiety.

Chapter 7:

Myths Related to Atypical Anorexia

AAN is a topic that has a lot of stigmas. Also, many people do not understand how to deal with it. The most common myths are-
1. People with AAN Are Normal Body Size, or Just over the Weight Limit.
The truth is that any eating disorder does not have “a look.” But, the only difference between a diagnosis of AN and AAN is the weight. That is it.
2. They Do Not Have “Real” Anorexia Yet
Not eating food for long does not always lead to weight loss. Regardless of your weight, your body will start storing energy. But, it doesn’t matter if you have an extra weight stored, your body will store more. Also, your rate of metabolism will be slower, and you will gain weight. This will make you restrict more because you think you need to rework your diet plan.” It is a self-defeating cycle.
3. There Are No Health Issues for AAN
Your weight is all good. Even, your body might look all good but inside it has an impact on various organs. But, there are many health issues that no one talks about.
4. There Are No Recovery Side Effects
There are also many long-term side effects. Moreover, recovery is also hard. The person also might have a lot of stomach issues and skin changes. Also, the body’s natural hunger and fullness cues are not working well. The person also might have emotional issues.
5. They Don’t Need as Intensive Treatment
Regardless of what type of eating disorder, treatment is needed. In most cases, therapy might be needed. Also, to bring back the body to normal levels hospital visit may be needed.

Chapter 8:

Living with Atypical Anorexia

Like many other eating disorders, this also can affect the physical and mental health- The person can have issues, such as:
  • Gastrointestinal distress
  • Low self-esteem
  • Depression
  • Mental issues
  • Feeling of doing suicide

Chapter 9:

Atypical Anorexia Treatment

It can be hard to treat eating disorders. However, with strong support system and help, we can do it. But, the best way to deal with AAN is to have experts from the health sector who help in treating the disorder. We feel better if we have someone with whom we can talk about our issues and also ask questions.
  • Behavioral techniques
  • Lifestyle counseling
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Psychotherapy
  • Medications

Chapter 10:

How to Help Someone

The best way to help someone is to be there for them. It is also helpful to know the Atypical Anorexia symptoms. Also, if your loved one is suffering from AAN, here are a few ways you can help support them:
  • It is easy to feel tired of seeing their patterns. They might not listen to you also. But, try to be patient.
  • In the early stages the person AAN may be very emotional, withdrawn and may not talk to anyone. But, be supportive
  • They might not want to eat or drink anything. But, encourage your loved ones to eat and drink things that are normal and healthy for their body.
  • Every person is different. So, don’t compare them with others. Be gentle.
  • Don’t control their eating patterns.

If You Want to Know More about Atypical Anorexia You Can Enrol for a Course on Our Website

"Very interesting and relevant" John

72 sections

6-Weeks Self-Paced

  • Educational Content
  • Quizzes
  • Self-reflection material
  • Suggestions & feedback
  • Worksheet, tips & tools to use

$9.00 $12.00

25% discount