There are plenty of misconceptions about eating disorders floating around the world that is can be hard to know exactly how to spot when someone you love is struggling.
We’re here to set the record straight, and to highlight some of the key signs and symptoms of an eating disorder so that you can help and support those around you that might be struggling.
Are eating disorders common?
Nowadays, eating disorders are much more prevalent in everyday life and are commonly associated with long-term psychological and physical consequences. The most common eating disorders are anorexia and bulimia nervosa. As these conditions can develop at any age, it is important that we are all aware of the symptoms so that we can support our loved ones and encourage them to seek professional help sooner rather than later.
Can anyone suffer from an eating disorder?
As mentioned briefly above, eating disorders can develop at any age and in any gender. Generally, anorexia and bulimia tend to be more prevalent in females than in males, with the onset usually starting around the age of 15. In terms of socioeconomic groups, anorexia does appear to be more common in Caucasians.
What are eating disorders caused by?
There isn’t a single trigger or cause for eating disorders, and each individual’s experiences will be different. That said, symptoms can easily be triggered or exacerbated by stressful life events. Similarly, if you come from a family that has a history of mental health problems, there could be an increased risk of development. Those who already suffer from OCD, anxiety, or perfectionism are also more likely to develop an eating disorder.
If you think you or someone you know may be suffering from an eating disorder – even if it is in the early stages – visit edentreatment.com to see what help is available in your area.
Eating disorder symptoms
The signs for different eating disorders vary, but this post will highlight the common symptoms to look out for with anorexia and bulimia.
Signs and symptoms: anorexia nervosa
Warning signs can be both physical and behavioral. For example, behavioral changes such as an excessive fear of gaining weight, a strong discomfort for eating in public, or obsessive attempts to be thin would all be strong signs that anorexia may be developing.
As for physical signs, a person can become much frailer with brittle nails and dry skin or hair. They may struggle from damaged tooth enamel, a poor attention span, and constipation. If the disorder is left to develop, long-term issues may develop, such as bone pain, muscle wasting, and cardiac arrhythmia.
Signs and symptoms: bulimia nervosa
For bulimia, there may be similar symptoms such as excessive fear of gaining weight or persistent body-image distortions. However, the physical symptoms are much more apparent from the get-go. Self-induced vomiting is a serious sign, as is an uncontrollable urge to overeat. Those suffering from bulimia nervosa may also struggle with shortness of breath, chest pain, calluses on the back of the hands, and sickness.
When not treated, eating disorders can cause irreversible damage to the body. But early detection can be incredibly helpful in getting the individual back to a happy and healthy life.