National Eating Disorder Awareness Week took place February 25th through March 4th and this year’s theme was It’s Time to Talk About It.  So let’s talk about it.

Signs of Common Eating Disorders

Often the result of a traumatic experience or an underlying mental health issue, eating disorders affect approximately 8 million Americans of all ages, races, and creeds. Below we discuss the most common types of eating disorders that affect millions of Americans.

Anorexia Nervosa- People who suffer from this condition experience some form of body dysmorphia. Body dysmorphia is a condition where the person has an obsessive preoccupation that some aspect of their appearance is severely flawed and warrants extreme measures to correct it. These extreme measures include consuming very little food if any at all, as well as engaging excessive exercising regiment.

Bulimia Nervosa-Often used as a way to self-regulate, bulimia is the condition where the person is compelled to binge eat and then purge through self-induced vomiting or laxatives. Signs include multiple trips to the bathroom after eating and eating in secret. Many bulimics also engage in excessive exercising in an effort to burn off every calorie they have consumed during a binge. While weight is not an indicator of bulimia, sufferers may have damaged teeth and gums or scars on their hands and fingers from excessive forced vomiting.

Binge Eating Disorder- Binge Eating Disorder differs from bulimia in that the binge is not counteracted by a purge. It is more common than you think and is categorized by the sufferer’s compulsion to eat extremely large portions of foods in one sitting. In fact, binge eaters often to the point of causing themselves physical pain. Binge eating episodes often cause the person to feel guilty or shameful afterward. Signs include eating in secret or late at night. Sufferers may be obese or experience additional health problems.

This is by no means a complete list. There are many types of eating disorders and their signs and symptoms vary and include any illness that causes abnormal and unhealthy eating habits used to manage emotions. Examples include:

  • Atypical Anorexia: like anorexia, but sufferers may retain normal weight.
  • Purging Disorder: the inverse of binge eating disorder, sufferers purge without binge eating.
  • Night Eating Disorder: where people overeat at night. It differs from binge eating disorder in that sufferers may eat less and episodes take place exclusively at night.

How You Can Help

If you know someone who may be suffering from an eating disorder, it’s time to talk about it. Let them know you care and encourage them to speak openly. Then encourage them to get help.

The right treatment is out there. Recovery is possible.