What Is Atypical Anorexia Nervosa? | Signs, Symptoms, Effects & Treatment
When it comes to talking about eating disorders, there are many stigmas attached to them and not much awareness and understanding about the various eating disorders. The stigmas, hence, make it harder to find help for disorders where the symptoms are atypical.
When you hear the term ‘eating disorder’ what image pops into your head? Either a very thin person or an overweight person, correct?
In many cases, serious eating disorders do not always result in low weight. Many people with serious eating disorders have normal or above-average weights that match their height and age. If a person does not lose weight or gain weight, then it doesn’t mean that they don’t have a serious eating disorder.
In this article, we’ll be exploring more about the atypical anorexia nervosa eating disorder, symptoms of atypical anorexia, the effects of it on a person’s physical and/or mental health, and treatment for atypical anorexia.
What Is Atypical Anorexia Nervosa?
Atypical anorexia can cause a person to present the same restrictive behavior as in anorexia nervosa. However, unlike anorexia nervosa, in this eating disorder, there is no significant weight loss or weight gain.
According to the DSM-5, people struggling with atypical anorexia have extreme food restrictions without experiencing extreme weight loss. A person struggling with this disorder may as well have normal weight for their age, sex, height, BMI, etc. Hence, making the presentation and features atypical.
Atypical anorexia is categorized in the Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorders (OSFED).
It is important to note that people with atypical anorexia nervosa still deal with negative thoughts related to their weight, body measurements, and their food habits. No matter how it affects a person’s weight or size, atypical anorexia is a serious eating disorder that can negatively impact a person’s daily life, work-life, relationships, and overall wellness.
The Symptoms Of Atypical Anorexia
Because of the atypical features, diagnosing atypical anorexia may not be easy. However, there are some symptoms of atypical anorexia that can help in the diagnosis:
- Avoiding food at social events
- Having a rigid eating routine
- Constant worrying over body weight, size, or shape
- Believing that they are bigger than they really are
Similar to anorexia nervosa, people with atypical features may use food restrictions to cope with stress, low self-esteem, and dissatisfaction with their bodies.
Atypical Anorexia vs Anorexia Nervo
Because of the difference in the features and signs of anorexia nervosa and atypical anorexia nervosa, the diagnosis is pretty different too. Although, there are some features of the diagnosis they both share:
- Extreme attention to body shape and measurements
- Fear of gaining weight
- Restricted food intake
A person struggling with atypical anorexia nervosa might have a fear of gaining weight and may resort to food habits such as counting calories, cutting certain foods out of their diet, avoiding food in social events, etc.
Effects Of Atypical Anorexia On Overall Health
Atypical anorexia nervosa can severely impact a person’s daily life, work-life, relationships, and overall health. People with this disorder often think about their body weight and food intake constantly.
As I mentioned, such obsessive thoughts may cause them to avoid social events, reduce their productivity, disrupt their relationships, etc. People with atypical anorexia are more likely to develop physical and mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.
Other problems may include:
- Extremely poor heart conditions
- Low blood pressure
- Experiencing light-headedness
- Experiencing symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Experiencing suicidal thoughts and behaviors
As many people don’t believe a person is struggling because of no significant changes in weight, many people with atypical anorexia face difficulties in explaining their condition to others. This might cause them to feel emotionally and mentally isolated as well.
Such stigmatized behavior may also prevent people with this disorder seek the professional help they need.
It was also reported in some studies that people with atypical anorexia experience more distress related to their body image as – unlike people with typical anorexia – they do not feel relief associated with losing weight.
Treatment For Atypical Anorexia
Atypical anorexia treatment is somewhat similar to the treatment for typical anorexia nervosa. Usually, the treatment involves addressing negative behaviors and co-occurring health problems.
Treatment for eating disorders can be:
- Family therapy
- Nutritional therapy
- One-on-one therapy
- Cognitive remediation therapy
- Exposure therapy
Anyone, regardless of their sex, age, height, weight, body shape, size, etc can suffer from eating disorders. If you’re struggling with an eating disorder, negative or problematic thinking patterns associated with your body, weight, and food, it is recommended that you reach out and seek professional help.
Getting a professional diagnosis can help you understand the extent of your condition and help you reach out to the right professionals.
Eating disorders or any disorders left undiagnosed and untreated can result in consequences that can be harmful to your overall health and wellness.
Remember, atypical anorexia nervosa does not present itself as typical anorexia and can be emotionally and mentally exhausting for anyone struggling with this disorder. If you or someone you know are struggling with atypical anorexia, be sure to reach for the right help.
You can also write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to help connect with the right professionals. We’re always happy to help you! You can also reach out to ED support groups or follow these Instagram influencers for ED recovery.
All you need to do is to reach out!