If you're concerned about anorexia nervosa, you're not alone. Around 1 in 100 young people aged between 10 and 20 suffer from anorexia each year. It can be very difficult to accept that you have a problem, but when you do, there are lots of people who can help.

What is anorexia nervosa?

Anorexia is an eating disorder where you worry about your weight, want to lose weight and eat less and less food. It's a serious condition, but with the right help, you can recover and take back your life.

If things feel out of control, restricting what you eat could be a way of feeling more in charge. 

Girls are 10 times more likely than boys to develop anorexia, but eating disorders are becoming more common among males.

The symptoms of anorexia nervosa

The symptoms of anorexia nervosa are both physical and mental.

Feelings and behaviours:

  • eating less and less
  • exercising too much
  • thinking a lot about calories
  • feeling panicky about eating in front or others or having a big meal
  • feeling fat even though people tell you you're too thin
  • obsession with body image and comparing your body to others
  • losing interest in things
  • low mood and irritability

Physical changes:

  • losing lots of weight quickly
  • periods stopping or being unable to have an erection
  • feeling cold all the time
  • growing new downy hair on your body
  • poor sleep and concentration
  • constipation

Just because you experience one or more of these symptoms, it doesn’t mean you’re definitely affected by anorexia nervosa. It’s important to talk to your GP to get a full diagnosis.

What to do about anorexia nervosa

Take the first step – Anorexia can happen to anyone. It can be very difficult to accept that you have a problem, but it's the first step to getting better.

If you think you are affected by anorexia nervosa, talk to someone you like and trust, like a teacher, relative, counsellor or friend.

You should also see your GP. They may offer to refer you to the child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS), an expert or a psychiatrist who can help you.

Treating anorexia nervosa

Treatment usually begins by assessing how much anorexia is affecting your physical health. If your weight is very low, you may be admitted to hospital to get your strength back up.

Your treatment could involve counselling, group and family therapy, working with a dietician, and support from a mental health team to help you gradually return to healthy eating habits.

You'll be supported to make sure you're getting enough to eat and learn what your healthy weight should be.  You may also be offered medication.

Hope Virgo’s journey to recovery from anorexia

Where to get help

YoungMinds Crisis Messenger

  • Provides free, 24/7 crisis support across the UK if you are experiencing a mental health crisis
  • If you need urgent help text YM to 85258
  • All texts are answered by trained volunteers, with support from experienced clinical supervisors
  • Texts are free from EE, O2, Vodafone, 3, Virgin Mobile, BT Mobile, GiffGaff, Tesco Mobile and Telecom Plus.


  • If you have an eating disorder, or someone in your family does, b-eat is the place you can go to for information and support.
  • Helpline number for under 25's: 0808 801 0711 (Daily 3pm-10pm)
  • Email: [email protected]
  • To know what local help and support you can get, put your postcode into HelpFinder

Anorexia and Bulimia Care

  • If you're being affected by an eating disorder, you can ring the helpline. 
  • Helpline 03000 11 12 13 (option 1: support line, option 2: family and friends)

Men Get Eating Disorders Too

Youth Access

  • A place for you to get advice and information about counselling in the UK, if you're aged 12-25. 

The Mix

  • If you're under 25 you can talk to The Mix for free on the phone, by email or on their webchat. You can also use their phone counselling service, or get more information on support services you might need. 
  • Freephone: 0808 808 4994 (13:00-23:00 daily)
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