Symptoms of Anorexia

Do you need help with a young person who has an unhealthy relationship with food and are you anxious that they are displaying the Symptoms of Anorexia and maybe also show signs of depressions? I have recently spoken to a number of parents and teaching staff about anxieties they have around children’s eating habits. So, what are the Symptoms of Anorexia ? How can I tell if someone has this condition and what can I do about it?

An unusual or unhealthy relationship with food has long been associated with unhappy feelings. We speak of “Comfort Food”, the idea suggests that there is safety and help in eating certain foods. A diagnosis of Anorexia tells us that a psychologist or psychiatrist believes they have see behaviour in a patient that resembles the descriptions of behaviour they have in the DSM V. The diagnosis is a label and does not come without risks. Once given the label it is very hard to un-hear it or to refute it, particularly as at the time of the label assignment feelings are running high and answers are needed.

Standard interventions are based on a CBT, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, model of therapy. This model invites the person with the eating problem to reflect on their eating habits, their weight and to look at damage their eating is causing them both in the long term and in the short term. In this way the professional is attempting to use logic and fear to motivate behaviour.

This approach seeks to fix the presenting behaviour. In this case the relationship with food. A CBT approach does very little to address the reasons that caused a person to use food or to fix how they feel.

In this way the professional are attempting to use logic and fear to motivate behaviour and address the Symptoms of Anorexia . This is concerns me as fear and logic are usually the very things that have encouraged the person to use food or alcohol as a coping strategy in the first place.

Unhealthy relationships with food can stem from insecurity and incongruence experienced in a person’s life. (Crittenden 2010)

Where, for example,

1, A child feels anxiety and nerves about their parents’ relationship because of the arguments they witness. They wonder will the parental relationship hold fast and stay together or will it fall apart with all the attendant trauma?

2, Negative information about the state of an adult relationship is shared with the child by a parent leading to the child feeling worried and wanting to protect the parent and the parental relationship. Of course generally children are powerless to effect any real long-term change in adult relationships so all they are left with is their anxiety. These feelings of powerlessness are rolled out into their own relationships later in life where developing relationships with people or things that they perceive they have some control over becomes a powerfully motiving energy.

3, A child knows that a parent is in difficulties, usually with a significant relationship or a serious illness, yet they are advised that all is well. In this case a child is forced to deny the evidence of their senses, thereby important information becomes depressed, information like intuition.

This is obviously a tiny breakdown of complex subject area and this is obviously no substitute for a full understanding of these issues.

If you live Bournemouth, Poole or Dorset and are wondering if someone you know or love has Symptoms of Anorexia why not give me a call, send me a text or email me and we can arrange to meet, I have over 20 years experience in supporting people with this issue.

Together we can make a difference.

And finally….

When I work this week in Bournemouth, Poole or Dorset as a counsellor, couple counsellor, teenage and adolescent counsellor, family counsellor, family therapist…


Family counselling and marriage guidance, marriage counseling, teenage counselling and adolescent counselling to individuals and couples with differing forms of anxiety and depression feeling anxious and depressed…

I may use CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), Attachment Theory, Mindfulness, Psychodrama, Person Centred Therapy, Humanistic Therapy, Gestalt Therapy, Psychoanalysis, Solution Focused Therapy, Integrative Therapy or Family Therapy or Attachment Theory…

I am mindful to that counselling offers us new opportunities and possibilities for all of us to develop our knowledge, commitment and understanding of ourselves and each other.

Finally, just because a young person does not respond in the way that you would like it does not mean that they are being resistive or defiant. It may simply means that their helper haven’t understood the rules!