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Suspect My Girlfriend has Anorexia
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Questions in the Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge Eating Forum are being answered by Dr. Patricia Pitts, PhD, a Clinical Psychologist from The Bella Vita Program - CA.

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Suspect My Girlfriend has Anorexia

Hi

Thanks so much for taking my question.  While I don't know for sure, I suspect my girlfriend has anorexia.  She has been dropping a lot of weight, but says it's because she's too fat.  Right now she is 5'4" and weighs about 92 pounds and she looks like ****!.  She thinks she's FAT!   Everytime we go out for dinner she only eats a few bites and then has to go to the ladies room.  I don't know for sure because she's really defensive, but I do suspect she has anorexia.  Is there some way to find out, like symptoms or things I should look for?  If she is anorexic, how can I help her?   I would hate to talk to her parents, but I will if it will get her healthy again.

Thanks.
Jack
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Dear Jack,

You have strong reason to be concerned.  The signs you are reporting are all possible symptoms of anorexia such as, rapid weight loss, intense fear of getting fat, being less than 85% of ideal body weight; distorted body image, restrictive eating, possible purging (through vomiting, laxatives, diuretics, excessive exercise).  

Additional signs are amenorrhea, poor concentration, being cold and food rituals, such as, tearing foods into small pieces, fear of eating fats, carbs or sweets, moving food around on the plate, mixing inappropriate foods together.  Associated symptoms can be depression, anxiety, trauma, obsessive compulsive behaviors.  

You could help her by sitting down with her and lovingly let her know how you feel.  You could say something like I feel scared when I see you losing weight rapidly.  It makes me sad how you perceive your body.  I am frightened for your health and safety.  

Ask her to speak to a professional who could shed light on what is going on with her.  Offer to take her.  To find eating disorder specialists in your area you could go to edreferral.com or somethingfishy.com. Unless there are compelling reasons against, involving her parents would be vital.  Anorexia is a life threatening illness.  

If you are in the Los Angeles, CA or Woodland Hills, CA area, you can call us for a free confidential consultation at 1.877.91.BELLA.  For more information visit our website.

Regards,

Dr. Patricia Pitts
5 Comments
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Avatar_m_tn
Her body mass index (weight vs height) is about 16.5, it should be over 18.5.

She's underweight.

Start by telling her that you're worried, then go on to tell her she's underweight (if the numbers you've given me are accurate, that is.).

Work on raising her self esteem as much as you can, telling her she's beautiful etc.


Should help.
You should be able to tell if shes bulimic by taste alone, (I do hope you're far enough on in your relationship for kisses with tongues, I don't consider it a relationship if it's not AT LEAST that far.) If you can taste vomit, then yes, she's probably bulimic.

Anorexia is harder to spot, as what IS anorexia nervosa and what ISNT, has not really been properly defined.
But, what you've described does sound very like anorexia.
The first step is to ask her, WITH CONCERN in your voice, not direct either, like ARE YOU ANOREXIC?
More like "You don't seem to be eating enough to me..."


The first step is to ask her.
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Avatar_n_tn
Hi Jack;
   As you probably know, Anorexia and Bulimia are all part of the same overall disease condition.
Having a 28 year old daughter who has had bulimia for over 10 years; I've come to realize that this is one of the hardest addictions to overcome.
The memo from Colonseventeen (above) has some very helpful hints above such as the washroom scenerio and the smell or taste of vomit and the BMI of 16.5 is an indication. By the way just google BMI and they have the easy formula there which you may apply in the future if she lets you.
Another clue is the extensive use of laxatives...check garbage bags, purses,pharmacy visits or evidence left in her bedroom, washroom etc.
The fact that she is very defensive indicates a feeling of guilt and hiding the condition to what ever degree she has in accepting the disease process.
I suspect with a large degree of accuracy that she has the condition. As time goes by you will notice that she will get more defensive, will eat less or binge eat and disappear to the washroom to vomit on a more regular basis.
On the bulimic end of things she will spend more and more time in the washroom and will turn on the water to muffle the sound of vomiting and if laxatives are also part of the equation you will be able to smell the difference from regular bowel movements and first thing in the morning or during the night she will rise to relieve herself.
Trust me if this goes on don't be afraid to talk to her parents! I'm sure they love her too. This would only be the start of addressing what could be a very long problem.
Good luck and my prayers are with her, you and her family.
I hope I'm wrong in my analysis but experience has taught me that I'm not...this condition is rampant.
                       Kev  
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When I posted here, I really didn't expect too much.  The information and support you guys have given me is awesome!  Thanks to everyone.  

Dr. Pitts I wish we were closer to LA, I'd have her in your office right now.  We're in the midwest.

Jack
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Hi,  just thought Id contribute. I was diagnosed with anorexia a year ago (Im almost 17 now) and that sounds exactly like my behaviour when it first became noticed by others.  
I thought I'd chime in because I am also 5"4 and was hospitalised at about 88 pounds so it looks like she's getting to that point - depends on what state of malnutrition shes at though.
My friends and family confronted me about it soo many times, a couple even wrote me letters about how much they cared and wanted to make sure I stayed alive. If it is anorexia, she's going to be annoyed at being stopped and at being confronted but also hopefully be glad that you care enough to intervene - it sounds like you care a whole lot. Ive seen some pretty major freak outs about having to be re-fed and gain weight when in the ED ward which is pretty scary for family/friends etc.  Just be prepared for that.
Whoa I wrote more than i intended to.
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