An eating disorder is a serious mental health issue that affects millions of people all across the United States.
An eating disorder is a psychological disorder characterized by abnormal or dysregulated eating habits.
There are three main types of eating disorders: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder or BED. Other types of eating disorders include avoidant restrictive food intake disorder (AFRID), pica, and rumination disorder.
Let’s take a closer look at the key signs of the most common eating disorders.
Anorexia nervosa involves avoiding food, restricting food, or eating small quantities of certain foods. Those suffering from anorexia nervosa have a huge fear of gaining weight. As a result, people suffering from anorexia nervosa are usually underweight. Even individuals who are severely underweight may see themselves as being overweight.
These are the key signs of anorexia nervosa:
- Distorted body image
- Dramatic weight loss
- Extremely restrictive eating
- Wearing loose clothing to hide weight loss
- Refusal to eat certain foods like carbohydrates or fats
If left untreated, these symptoms could develop over time:
- Brain damage
- Brittle hair and nails
- Dry and yellow skin
- Feeling cold all the time
- Heart damage
- Muscle depletion and weakness
- Organ failure
- Severe constipation
- Slow breathing and pulse
- Sluggish or tired all the time
- Thinning of the bones
Bulimia nervosa is a condition that involves cycles of extreme overeating, or binging, followed by purging or other behaviors to compensate for the overeating.
People suffering from bulimia nervosa may be underweight, normal weight, or overweight. They often have a lack of control over their eating habits. They may try to compensate for their overeating by forced vomiting, using diuretics or laxatives, fasting, excessive exercise, or a combination.
These are the key signs of bulimia nervosa:
- Acid reflux disorder
- Always dieting
- Decaying teeth from stomach acid
- Electrolyte imbalance
- Excessive use of gum, mints, or mouthwash
- Frequent trips to the bathroom
- Sensitive teeth
- Severe dehydration
- Sore throat
- Stomach issues
- Swollen glands in the neck or jaw
If left untreated, bulimia nervosa can result in long-term health problems, just like anorexia nervosa.
Binge Eating Disorder (BED)
Binge eating disorder is similar to bulimia nervosa, just without purging. This condition involves someone eating large quantities of food in a short amount of time. Typically, the individual is alone and not even hungry.
The after-effects of BED usually leave a person feeling disgusted or ashamed of themself and their behavior. The behavior of BED can be a vicious cycle. The feelings of disgust and shame can actually lead the individual to binge and repeat the cycle again. People suffering from binge eating disorder are usually overweight as a result.
These are the key signs of BED:
- Always dieting
- Not showing signs of losing weight
- Hoarding or hiding food
- The disappearance of large amounts of food within a short time span
- Wearing baggy clothing to hide their body
If left untreated, binge eating disorder can result in severe health consequences.
How to Get Help for an Eating Disorder
Recognizing the key signs and symptoms of an eating disorder is the first step to getting help for it.
It is okay if you are hesitant about therapy. Your eating disorder has probably been voicing negative thoughts and driving your behavior. Eating disorders can even affect the brain. Therapy is a chance to explore that desire and decide if you are ready for recovery. There is no pressure to commit right away.
No matter the type of eating disorder you are dealing with, we believe treatment can help you get on the path to recovery.
To contact us, you can call 281-944-SWCC for a free 15-minute phone consultation.