Anorexia – Help to embrace your body

Learn more about anorexia, the warning signs, and symptoms of the most common eating disorder. Our specialists at Schoen Clinic are here to help you.


Anorexia Nervosa (Anorexia) is marked by the fear of putting on weight or being a normal body weight, leading to highly restrictive eating, in turn causing rapid weight loss. It is often associated with behaviours that persistently interfere with gaining weight. People with anorexia often have a disturbance in how they view their weight or shape, and they disproportionately focus on their body when evaluating their own self-worth.

Treatment is primarily psychological therapy in combination with physical health help to ensure safe weight gain is achieved and maintained

Causes & Symptoms

Causes of Anorexia nervosa

There is no one definitive cause of anorexia, however, there are certain risk factors that can increase the likelihood of a person developing anorexia. These are as follows:

  • Genetic vulnerability: this can be illustrated in family history of eating disorders, or other mental health disorders.
  • Societal or occupational pressure to look a certain way.
  • Experience of trauma, including abuse.
  • Experience of anxiety, obsessional or perfectionistic traits.
  • Experience of criticism of food intake, weight or bodily appearance, for example, bullying.
  • Childhood anxiety.


Anorexia nervosa Symptoms

There are four key features associated with anorexia:

  • Dietary restriction.
  • Overwhelming fear of being a normal weight.
  • Persistent behaviours that hinder weight gain.
  • A distorted perception of one’s own weight or shape, and a disproportionate effect of this on perception of self-worth.

Beyond this, there are further physical, psychological, and behavioural symptoms, that individuals with anorexia may experience. Not all of the below symptoms are required for a diagnosis of anorexia but may be present:


  • Low body weight.
  • Loss of menstruation (periods) in females.
  • Coldness due to poor circulation, particularly in hands and feet.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Gastrointestinal disturbances, e.g. bloating, constipation.
  • Fatigue and trouble sleeping.
  • Dizziness or fainting.
  • Thin hair that may fall out.
  • Fine hair appearing on the body.


  • Fear of reaching a normal weight, or of putting on weight at all.
  • Feelings of depression, including, such as low mood, irritability, social isolation.
  • Preoccupation or obsession with food.
  • Fear of social or public eating.
  • Body image disturbance and fixation.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Mood swings.
  • Anxiety.
  • Low self-esteem.


  • Self-induced vomiting.
  • Use of appetite suppressant pills or laxatives.
  • Excessive/ driven exercise.
  • Loss of libido.
  • Wearing baggy clothing to hide figure.
  • Avoidance of social activities.


Warning Signs of Anorexia

If you worry that a friend or loved one is experiencing Anorexia, there are signs you can look out for. These do not guarantee your loved one has anorexia but can be indicative:

  • Rapid, significant weight loss.
  • Wearing baggy clothing.
  • Not eating socially.
  • If you see them at mealtimes, they are exhibiting very restrictive eating.
  • They are excessively exercising.
  • They are expressing excessive concern about their body weight, or shape.

If you feel these may apply to your friend or loved one, it is always best to talk to them about it in a non-confrontational, non-judgmental manner and support and encourage them in getting the help that they need, making sure you are there for them emotionally throughout their journey to recovery. Try to educate yourself about eating disorders before approaching the topic with your loved one to understand better what they may be going through. Talk somewhere private and comfortable, at a time of low distress (i.e. not directly before or after a meal).

Don’t wait too long to approach the subject with them, as the earlier they get help, the better their chances of recovery. However, you must aim to not be too pushy with how you say this, as saying something along the lines of “you need to get help now” can feel harsh and blunt. Aim for something softer but still motivational, such as “I’ll be here to support you in going to get help when you’re ready to do so”.


The treatments and support we provide

We provide a very comprehensive and holistic range of interventions and support. This means we are able to find the mechanisms for recovery, which will be different for each patient. Everyone will have a highly personalised treatment programme. 

The programme is reviewed every week by the patient’s multi-disciplinary team (MDT), encompassing the different professionals involved in their care. Our MDT consists of: consultant psychiatrist, psychotherapist/psychologist, family therapist, occupational therapist, dietician. The MDT is at the centre of our approach, ensuring all the progress made across the programme is understood, built upon and applied. Our model provides consistency and continuity. 

Individual programmes are tailor-made to each patient’s needs and progress. The following provides a guide to the typical building blocks of our day treatment programmes at Schoen Clinic Chelsea, all of which include a number of weekly 1:1 sessions with members of the MDT. For information about our treatment programmes at Schoen Clinic York, call us at +44 190 440 4400.

  Full-day Programme Half-day Programme
Days Monday to Friday Monday to Friday
Hours 8 hours per day 4 - 5 hours per day
Programme Length Up to 6 weeks Up to 6 weeks
Detail group therapy 5 - 6 sessions  3 - 4 sessions
Daily meals
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Snack
  • Dinner
  • Snacks


We provide the following therapies and interventions. These may be delivered on a 1:1 or group basis by members of the MDT.


Psycho-education Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) Mindfulness
Relapse prevention Self-esteem / resilience Movement
Body Image  (Over-) Exercising  Food preparation / cooking
Applied relaxation Art / drama Interpersonal therapy
Social issues Family therapy Maudsley Anorexia Treatment for Adults (Mantra)

Treatments are available at the following locations

Schoen Clinic Chelsea

Our Address
Schoen Clinic
Centre for Mental Health Chelsea
13a Radnor Walk
London SW3 4BP
General Telephone Enquiries
0203 146 2300
Specialist Areas
Anorexia Nervosa Binge Eating Disorder Bulimia Nervosa Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorders (OSFED) +7 More

Schoen Clinic Newbridge

Our Address
Schoen Clinic Newbridge
Newbridge House
147 Chester Road
Sutton Coldfield
Birmingham B74 3NE
General Telephone Enquiries
+44 (0)121 580 8362
Specialist Areas
Anorexia Nervosa Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorders (OSFED) +0 More

Schoen Clinic York

Our Address
Schoen Clinic York
The Retreat
Heslington Road
York YO10 5BN
General Telephone Enquiries
01904 404400
Specialist Areas
Anorexia Nervosa Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorders (OSFED) +0 More


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Ms Alexia Dempsey

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Ms Debra Batten


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Ms Laurel Playford

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Ms Arlene Gray

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Dr Pippa Hembry

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