Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa and Binge-Eating Disorder are some extreme mental illnesses that are characterized by abnormal eating habits, from eating large amounts of food in a short period of time to eating so little that one has a low body weight. But unlike several other medical conditions, where the patient may recognize the problem and ask for help, most of the individuals who suffer from eating disorders don’t recognize the problem or receive help on their own. That’s why parents, peers, teachers, friends and relatives should notice the symptoms and signs that are common for individuals suffering from an eating disorder. Understanding these signs and getting help from a good eating disorder clinic can ensure effective treatment and remission from the condition.

The psychopathology of eating disorder involves several factors, but mostly it centres around body image disturbance, self-worth being dependent on weight and shape of the individual and an excessive fear of gaining weight (even with binging episodes). It is also characterized by a distortion in which the body is being experienced and denial of the symptoms, even when they are severe. Here is a list of signs that shouldn’t be ignored, symptoms that require eating disorder treatment immediately.

  • Self Esteem is overly related to the individual’s body image
  • Binge Eating- Purging behaviour that lasts for at least three months
  • Restrictive eating and inadequate food intake even when the body weight is too low
  • Intense fear of gain weight or an obsession with persistent behaviour to prevent weight gain.
  • Excessive dieting and exercise, even if it leads to starvation.
  • Cycles of extreme overeating and binging, followed by purging behaviours. These behaviours are often rationalized as the way of compensating for the overeating and loss of control about eating.
  • Constant dieting patterns, particularly with counting calories, skipping meals, avoiding certain types of food groups and using fluids as a replacement for meals on a regular basis.
  • Evidence of laxative abuse and vomiting.
  • Strong social withdrawal from friends and family, avoiding activities that were previously enjoyed.
  • Deceptive behaviour, such as eating in secret, lying about amount of food consumed or throwing food.
  • Eating food too slowly, cutting it into small pieces to give an illusion that more food is being eaten.
  • Focusing on food preparation and planning, including shopping and preparing elaborate meals, nutritional guides and cookbooks.
  • Dislike for foods enjoyed previously.
  • Avoiding eating meals, refusing to eat certain foods, sudden interest in healthy eating, claiming to have already eaten or having an allergy to particular foods.
  • Loss of control over eating and extreme overeating (Binge Eating Disorders).
  • Coexisting symptoms such as low self-esteem, anxiety and depression, trouble coping with emotions and substance abuse is common.

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Except for these symptoms, these are other signs that can be recognized such as, sudden and rapid weight loss, loss of menstrual periods, fainting and fatigue or dizziness, sensitivity to cold, frequent weight changes, depression and anxiety, increased irritability, heightened criticism about body shape and weight.

If you notice any of these symptoms, make sure that you bring the individual to eating disorder clinic for help.