People who suffer from an eating disorder may look normal; in fact they may look attractive and be popular. There are some physical and behavioral signs that may be present but it takes an experienced eye to see them all.
People with eating disorder are usually good about concealing their condition. Not all signs and symptoms might be present in a person but nevertheless, they are suffering silently. Even though they are affecting more adolescents, eating disorder is not just a passing phase of growing up. It is a serious condition that must be treated professionally. Sufferers might have no idea how deeply they are affected so they will also not seek help.
You or your family member might be suffering from this and hardly notice. So what are these five warning signs that are common with eating disorder sufferers?
Fear of Gaining Weight
They have a frantic fear of being fat and gaining weight. They have a pre-occupation with not being thin enough. One’s weight, shape and body size is a daily source of stress. They might complain a lot about being fat although they are already thin. With eating disorder sufferers, weight loss is more than just an expression of vanity, rather is due to a need to cope up with overwhelming anxiety. There might be a source of intense pain or extremely negative emotions that compels a person to see herself in a negative way. Diuretics, laxatives and diet pills might be abused just to help with the desire to be thin and lose weight. They might become a “vegetarian” and use it as an excuse to eat only a selected diet limited to a few foods such as lettuce, salads and fruits. They might even abuse alcohol, cigarette or prohibited / prescription drugs to suppress appetite while maintaining energy levels to be able to function normally.
Unhealthy Eating Habits
As in the case of anorexia, there is a refusal to eat, skips meals and there’s a compulsion to do other unhealthy eating habits. They might chew mouthful of food but spit them out and rarely swallow. There is a constant adherence to strict diet regimen and in the case of bulimia, habitual bathroom trips immediately after eating. As with binge-eating disorder, they might secretly hoard and binge on large amounts of food.
Exercise might be too much and is done compulsively. This obsession about exercise might be not just out of a desire to be fit but more on to punish oneself and to burn out what was previously eaten. There is a preoccupation about calorie intake versus calories burned after exercise. A sufferer might already be losing a great deal of weight but continues to do regular strenuous exercise.
Way of Thinking
The person might be smart but her/his pre occupation with being thin has already affected her/his way of thinking. They might have trouble talking about her/his condition and instead stress that “everything is alright”. They might present themselves as independent and reject all attempts to help. There is a difficulty to evaluate and accept reality and to admit and face undesirable consequences. They may starve, binge or purge not to cry for attention but more to punish themselves. Due to starvation and lack of nourishment, they will eventually feel depressed, inadequate, guilty, moody, irritable and withdrawn.
Suffering Health Conditions
The health condition of a sufferer will be affected. Signs and symptoms will manifest slowly as the condition progresses. Emaciated face and protruded bones will be observed. Hair may start to thin and fall out and menstruation becomes irregular then stops completely. Due to loss of body fat and muscles, said person may always feel cold and will layer on clothing, even during warm weather. As in the case of constant purging, teeth will be damaged; then bad breath and heartburn may also appear. They may fell tired all the time but will find it hard to sleep, making them lethargic the next day.
An eating disorder is difficult to manage without professional help. The signs and symptoms may be subtle and hardly noticeable but may get irreversible and deadly. If you or your loved ones display most of the said signs, immediately seek help and talk with your doctor. Learn how to start the process.