Spotting an Eating Disorder

Posted On: 11-24-2017
Spotting an Eating Disorder
Although eating disorders are a common problem in the United States, they are difficult to identify and treat. It is estimated that 30 million Americans will have an eating disorder at some point in life.

Unfortunately, more people die of an eating disorder than any other psychiatric disorder—the condition can impact health, emotional well-being, and the ability to function in daily areas of life. You can help your friends or loved ones by providing your understanding and support, especially because treatment is a lengthy process. But first, you need to know what to look for.

Binge Eating

Someone who is binge eating will eat large amounts of food in short periods of time until they become uncontrollably full. This is often accompanied with an out-of-control feeling. This type of eating disorder can be the most challenging to spot, because episodes of binge eating may happen only periodically and in private.


Rapid weight loss is an obvious sign of anorexia. This disorder causes the individual to feel that they are still overweight, regardless of how thin they have become. Someone who is anorexic may refuse food by claiming not to be hungry, eat only one small meal a day, or avoid social situations altogether. Physical symptoms include pale skin, dry skin, trouble sleeping, thin hear, concentration issues, and dizziness. Females with anorexia might stop menstruating.


It is not uncommon for someone suffering from bulimia to be constantly dieting and hiding food. Usually, those with bulimia will eat to the point of uncomfortably full before stopping—but this usually happens in private. Signs of bulimia include using the bathroom immediately after eating, marks on the back of the hands (from inducing vomit), and routine use of laxatives.

If someone you know fits these descriptions, talk to them about what they are going through and explain the health risks. It is important to encourage your friend or family member to seek help from a medical professional.

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