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Anorexia is an eating disorder characterized by restricting intake of calories, intense fear of gaining weight and a skewed sense of body image. A person with anorexia may have low body weight (although this is not always the case), low self-esteem and a high level of perfectionist tendencies. Anorexia is a very serious illness and can be life-threatening. In fact, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. Anorexia affects both men and women, and can strike individuals of any age. The causes of eating disorders are complex, but research has shown that genetics, environmental factors, and personality traits all combine to create risk for eating disorders like anorexia.

While we tend to think of anorexia as simply not eating, there are actually two types of this disorder. In restricting anorexia, individuals tend to restrict certain food groups, count calories, skip meals or follow other rigid patterns. In the binge-eating/purging type of anorexia, individuals still restrict amounts and types of food they eat. However, they also experience periods of binge eating, or feeling a loss of control around food, paired with purging behaviors. This might include self-induced vomiting or use of laxatives or enemas.

Signs and Symptoms

A person may be suffering from anorexia if they present with these signs:

Extreme fear of gaining weight
Preoccupation with dieting, fasting, food, weight, body shape
Misuse of laxatives, diet pills, diuretics or similar products
Compulsive or excessive exercising: exercising when injured, feeling guilty/anxious when unable to exercise, etc.


How Crosswinds can help

Crosswinds therapists are able to assess the presence and severity of anorexia and its associated behaviors. After a thorough assessment, Crosswinds works with individuals and families to develop a treatment plan that helps enhance supports for the client while reducing their disordered patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving. All of our therapeutic interventions are geared toward restoring the individual to a whole and full life, where freedom from their eating disorder is possible.

In cases where an individual is in need of more frequent monitoring, re-feeding or weight restoration, Crosswinds therapists will make referrals to the next level of care, including medical intervention when necessary.

If you believe you or a loved one is suffering from anorexia, a Crosswinds intake specialist is standing by to help:

Get Help

To learn more about anorexia, please visit:

National Eating Disorder Collaboration
Walden Center


Anorexia help and resources are also available by calling:

ANAD Helpline: 630-577-1330
1800 ED HOPE (1-800-33-4673)