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Atypical Anorexia - Anorexia Hidden in the Dark

Oftentimes, people associate being severely underweight when they think of anorexia. But what if I told you that’s not always the case? This is known as atypical anorexia nervosa.

Atypical anorexia shares all of the same characteristics as anorexia nervosa except for the appearance of being extremely thin. These can include:

  • Fear of weight gain

  • Restriction of specific foods

  • Extreme calorie counting

  • Obsession over appearance or body size

Those with atypical anorexia tend to go unnoticed by others, since they fall under the normal to high range within the growth chart. They may even undergo extreme weight loss like those with anorexia, but don’t appear to be severely underweight. Because of this, these individuals are actually praised when they undergo weight loss. This can further progress their eating disorder and restrictive habits, leading them towards a state of malnourishment.

Consequences of Atypical Anorexia:

Although atypical anorexia does not look the same as anorexia, it is just as serious. If left untreated, those struggling with atypical anorexia are at risk of experiencing similar consequences as anorexia, which can include:

  • Lightheadedness

  • Low bone density

  • Low heart rate and/or blood pressure

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder

  • Poor body image

  • Suicidal thoughts

Atypical anorexia is one of the more recent eating disorders that have been discovered, meaning there’s less awareness about it. As of right now, it’s only a subcategory of anorexia, meaning it’s not a main diagnosis in it of itself yet. Because it has not been formally recognized in the DSM-5, it’s more difficult for individuals to receive proper diagnosis and treatment. In addition, there seems to be this stereotypical appearance that someone must have in order for someone to have an eating disorder. Individuals may also fail to receive proper diagnosis and treatment because their weight is within the range of “normal” or “above normal.” In reality, eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes. We must be vigilant in getting rid of this stigma in order to be able to help those in need.

If you or a loved one are experiencing atypical anorexia, book a free discovery call with a Coach to learn about what you can do to help start the road to recovery!


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