Approximately 24 million Americans live with some form of eating disorder. Eating disorders have the highest morbidity rate of any mental health issue, but with adequate treatment full recovery is possible! Eating disorders affect people of all ages, genders, and ethnicities without exception.
The following are a list of symptoms of the three most common types of eating disorder:
Anorexia Nervosa Symptoms
- 15% or more below normal body weight.
- Dieting obsessively when not overweight.
- Preoccupation with food, calories, and nutrition.
- Frequent weighing.
- Unusual food-related behaviors.
- Intermittent binge eating.
- Excessive exercise
- Depressed mood
- Amenorrhea / lack of menstruation (Most clinicians overlook this criteria in diagnosing males)
Bulimia Nervosa Symptoms
- Excessive concern about weight.
- Strict dieting followed by eating binges.
- Overeating, especially when distressed.
- Purging through vomiting, excessive exercise or other unhealthy behaviors.
- Secretive behaviors about binges or vomiting.
- Visiting the bathroom immediately after meals.
- Depressed mood.
- The binge eating and inappropriate compensatory behaviors both occur, on average, at least twice a week for 3 months.
Binge Eating Disorder Symptoms
Binge eating disorder is often misguidedly associated with obesity. Available research suggests that approximately only 20% of the people who seek professional treatment for obesity meet the criteria for binge eating disorder. Individuals can be at a normal weight range and still suffer from binge eating disorder.
- Eating until the point of discomfort or pain.
- Eating much more food during a binge episode than during a normal meal or snack.
- Eating faster during binge episodes.
- Feeling that their eating behavior is out of control.
- Frequent dieting without weight loss.
- Recurrent episodes of binge eating.
- Frequently eating alone.
- Hoarding food.
- Hiding empty food containers.
- Feeling depressed, disgusted or upset over the amount eaten.
- Depression or anxiety.
Persons with disordered eating may engage in a wide range of harmful behaviors, from food restriction to bingeing and purging, in order to lose weight or maintain a thin physique. Disordered eating behaviors can also include frequent crash dieting and other inappropriate weight loss methods. While individuals that are engaged in disordered eating may not have a fully diagnosable eating disorder and these behaviors may seem "normalized" by the media, these behaviors are still extremely unhealthy and can lead to both short term and long term health complications.