Symptoms of Eating Disorders

Health Writer

There are four main types of eating disorders that most often impact teens and adults, but the two most commonly discussed are anorexia nervosa and bulimia.

People with anorexia nervosa see themselves as overweight despite being underweight. They may have an intense fear of gaining weight or being fat. People suffering from anorexia often complete rituals around meals. They may choose one or two foods and eat only very small portions of those foods or they may avoid certain foods or avoid meals altogether. They may experience body dysmorphia wherein they perceive themselves to be large or overweight.

Bulimia nervosa includes periods of binge eating followed by purging of food by methods such as self-induced vomiting, laxatives, diuretics, fasting or excessive exercise. People suffering from bulimia nervosa judge themselves by how their body looks.

Both of these eating disorders have a number of medical complications including heart disease and kidney failure, which can cause serious illness and even death.

It is important, therefore, to recognize eating disorders early and to help those suffering from them seek treatment.

Some signs of all eating disorders:

  • Secret vomiting or use of laxatives or diet pills
  • Mood changes, feelings of depression, low self-worth, or guilt
  • Intense fear of being fat and preoccupation with their weight or how their body looks
  • Weighing themselves often and repeatedly

In addition, there are some signs for specific eating disorders:

Anorexia nervosa

  • Prepares food for others but will not eat
  • Severe dieting, eating very small portions, or limiting food intake to one type of food
  • Exercising compulsively
  • Feeling cold
  • Difficulty paying attention or making decisions
  • Avoiding meals

Bulimia nervosa

  • Weight fluctuation
  • Eating large amounts of food in short periods of time
  • Hoarding food
  • Using bathroom after meals
  • Chest pain, muscle pain, dizziness, headaches
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Broken blood vessels in the eyes
  • Discolored teeth

If you know someone who may be suffering from an eating disorder, suggest they talk to someone about a possible eating disorder.