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Symptoms of Eating Disorders

QUESTION: What are the symptoms of eating disorders?


Eating Disorders are complex forms of illness that may involve biological, psychosocial, and spiritual aspects of a human being. The symptoms of eating disorders are wide in spectrum and present with varying characteristics. Perhaps the most classic symptoms involve out-of-control behaviors associated with food that are often seen as obsessive in thought and compulsive in action. Examples of such behaviors might include pushing food around on the plate and not really eating it; eating only empty calories, such as lettuce, in very small portions; an observable pattern in which an individual almost always leaves the table to closet themselves in the bathroom.

Individuals with eating disorders almost always have distorted thinking associated with concept of self and with how emotional needs are met. Accompanying changes in emotional behavior can frequently be observed, whether it is through withdrawal and secrecy, or outward manifestations of hostility. Sometimes, personality changes accompany the gradual progression of an eating disorder. Parents of teenagers who have symptoms of eating disorders have described it as "becoming almost like a stranger."

Anorexia Nervosa
Symptoms of eating disorders such as Anorexia Nervosa include a pervasive fear of weight gain coupled with a perception of being fat, even when the body is quite emaciated due to dieting, binging, and purging activities. Uses of laxatives and/or vomiting are both behaviors frequently associated with symptoms of eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa.

Bulimia Nervosa
Bulimia Nervosa is characterized by recurring episodes of binge eating which may result in enormous quantities of caloric intake in a brief period of time. Symptoms of eating disorders like Bulemia Nervosa may also involve purging of consumed food through vomiting and/abuse of laxatives.

Characteristics of a Prolonged Eating Disorder
When an individual routinely binges and purges, or denies themselves the nutritional elements necessary to sustain a healthy body, more serious symptoms of the prolonged eating disorder emerge. Gastrointestinal problems, heart related complications, metabolic changes, hormone imbalances, and deterioration of teeth may all signal an individual's ongoing struggle with a serious eating disorder. Young women may experience cessation of menstruation, hair loss, and thyroid problems. An eating disorder that is left untreated may result in heart failure and even in death.

Symptoms of an eating disorder should never be ignored. If you think that someone you love is suffering with an eating disorder the first step is to get help.

Learn More About Eating Disorders.

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