Common mainly to teens and young adults, eating disorders can wreak havoc with the body. Here’s a look at the various eating disorder symptoms so that they can be identified at the earliest and subsequently treated.
Eating disorders have become extremely common among the younger generation in today’s day and time. With celebrities such as actors and supermodels sporting size zero figures, no one wants to be left far behind when it comes to having what they term as a ‘hot bod’. Even though now the emphasis is on a healthy body weight, and in fact skinny models have been rejected in several fashion shows, there is still a huge craze to be slim and skinny. This has led to the development of a wrong body image. When youngsters (more often girls, but also boys) decide they want to look as good as their favorite celebrity, they begin to starve themselves to the point where they develop the different types of eating disorders. There is a drastic transformation in their eating patterns and habits. There may be other causes of eating disorders too. Sometimes, due to troubled psychological conditions (e.g. depression, loneliness and stress) people seek comfort in food, and overeat even when not hungry. This is also an eating disorder. In fact, even famous celebrities such as Jennifer Aniston and Courtney Cox suffered from these conditions at some point in time. Here, we will talk about the symptoms of eating disorders by which you can identify the presence of these conditions in yourself or a loved one.
Types of Eating Disorders and their Symptoms
There are mainly three types of eating disorders: Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, and Binge Eating Disorder. We will first identify symptoms specific to each disorder, and then move on to symptoms that are common to all types of eating disorders.
Symptoms of Anorexia
Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder common to teens and adults. The signs of anorexia begin with an obsessive fear of weight gain, further marked by deliberate starvation. Due to this fear, those who suffer from this condition start exercising with intense fervor whenever possible. They try to cover up their weight loss by wearing loose, baggy clothes, and experience a lack of emotions.
Symptoms of Bulimia
Also known as bulimia nervosa, this condition is another common eating disorder among children and adults. While anorexia is marked by deliberate starvation, bulimia nervosa is marked by eating well (or what is called binging) and then inducing vomiting (also known as purging) to get rid of all the food that has been eaten. Those suffering from this condition also resort to the consumption of laxatives to purge themselves of all the food they have consumed. While eating or after a meal, they immediately go to the bathroom, as the induced vomiting soon becomes a natural phenomenon. The body becomes intolerant to food consumption and tries to expel it. This continuous vomiting results in sores in the throat and the mouth that are painful. Sores may also develop on hands and knuckles.
Symptoms of Binge Eating Disorder
The binge eating disorder is also sometimes known as emotional eating disorder or compulsive eating disorder. For instance, when you are depressed, sad, unhappy, lonely, or bored, you may seek comfort in food and start binging. Even if you aren’t hungry, you will eat foods that comfort you such as sweets, crisps, cheesy or fried foods to the point of severe discomfort. Out of anger or guilt, you may attempt to diet, but this in turn leads to more binging because you are now used to it. When suffering from this condition, people tend to eat at a faster pace than normal. This is the exact opposite of anorexia, where sufferers try to starve themselves till they lose weight.
While these were the specific symptoms of each eating disorder, given here is a list of symptoms that are common to each of these disorders.
- Poor self-esteem and body image
- Severe abdominal and bowel dysfunction leading to conditions such as constipation, nausea, and diarrhea
- Lack of control overeating patterns and habits
- Withdrawal from friends and family; increased desire to spend time alone
- Eating privately, in the absence of others
- Abnormal weight loss
- Tooth and gum damage
- Increased sensitivity to temperatures
- Loss of hair and skin glow; dry skin and hair
- Low blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, dizziness, and fainting
- Irregularity or complete loss of menstrual cycle
- Refusal to accept suffering from any condition
Treatment for such conditions begins by first getting the sufferer to accept that they are suffering from a disorder. Usually, they will fervently deny any such thing and will not hear of it. However, you have to be patient and get them to slowly understand that there is a problem. Following this, psychiatric help is necessary to determine the actual root of the problem, as this is a deep rooted psychological mindset that needs to be altered, as these symptoms cannot be treated superficially. The psychiatrist may recommend a visit to a nutritionist who will help the sufferer slowly ease into healthy eating without discomfort, and will recommend a diet that will help the body regain all its lost nutrients. Finally, complete family support and help from friends will ensure recovery from these eating disorders. Remember, those who suffer from eating disorders have a very low self-esteem. As friends and family, it is your duty to constantly boost this self-esteem and bring it back to the point where the individual can respect her/himself and her/his body.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only and does not, in any way, intend to replace the advice of a medical expert.