How To Help Your Friend with Anorexia Athletica

Despite heightened eating disorder awareness, anorexia athletica – an increasingly common condition around the world – remains a poorly understood and infrequently discussed eating disorder. In this article, we’ve taken a look at what you can do if you think your friend might be struggling with anorexia athletica.

What is Anorexia Athletica?

Anorexia athletica, a subtype condition of anorexia nervosa, is characterized by excessive or compulsive exercising habits. In addition to overtraining injuries, people with anorexia athletica are at risk of malnutrition, menstruation cessation, and early-onset osteoporosis.

Signs That Your Friend Might Have Anorexia Athletica

Because exercising is generally regarded as a healthy practice, anorexia athletica can be a difficult condition to diagnose. If you suspect that someone you know is struggling with anorexia athletica, try asking yourself the following questions:

  • Do they work out despite bad weather, injury, or sickness?
  • Do they continue exercising in unsafe, unsanitary, or uncomfortable situations?
  • Do they always find time to exercise, no matter how busy their schedule is?
  • Do they experience severe guilt and shame if they miss or skip a workout?
  • Do they neglect rest days?
  • Do they exercise twice in one day?
  • Do they work out for an unnecessary amount of time?
  • Do they try to exercise in isolated locations?
  • Do they use their exercise routine to compensate for eating?
  • Do they skip hobbies they enjoy in order to complete workouts?
  • Do they avoid friends in favor of exercise?
  • Do they use exercise to cope with bad news or negative emotions?
  • Do they respond angrily or defensively if someone questions them about their exercise routine?
  • Does their professional career suffer due to their exercising routine?
  • Is their self-worth tethered to their exercise routine?
  • What Should You Do If Your Friend Has Anorexia Athletica?

If you think someone you know is battling anorexia athletica, there are several things you should do. Firstly, start educating yourself about eating disorders, especially the signs and symptoms of anorexia athletica. If you don’t know how to begin, get in touch with a medical professional and ask for some eating disorder resources.

Your next step is to slowly come up with a way of approaching your friend and discussing their exercising habits in a safe, friendly, and supportive manner. Do everything you can to avoid analyzing their weight, body shape, or general health. If your friend is open to talking about their exercise habits, it’s imperative that you remain non-judgmental and supportive. If you feel comfortable with the idea, you can also ask your friend if they’d consider involving you in the eating disorder recovery and treatment process.

Sources: Eating Disorders Hope, Self, Mirror Mirror, The Telegraph
Photo: Pexels

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