An eating disorder is a mental and physical illness caused by persistent eating patterns that harm one’s health, emotions, and behavior. Most eating disorders are an unhealthy obsession with food, body image, and weight.
Eating disorders frequently start in the teen and young adult years. But they can happen at other times, affecting people of all ages, gender, race, ethnicity, and body shape.
The three most common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder. However, eating disorders manifest in various ways, and not everyone will present with these signs and symptoms simultaneously.
The signs and symptoms are classified into three broad categories:
Generally, these symptoms show when you are concerned about losing weight, dieting, and controlling your food intake. Examples are:
- Dieting by having eating routines, fasting, skipping meals or eating small meals at regular intervals, avoiding some food groups, or tracking calories.
- Binge eating a large amount of food or hoarding food
- Getting rid of food from the body by vomiting or using laxatives
A malnourished body cannot perform optimally. A person who has an eating disorder will show:
- Noticeable fluctuations in weight
- Absence or interruption of menstruation
- Continuous fatigue, lethargy, and sluggishness
- Low blood pressure, breathing, and pulse
- Being sensitive to chilly temperatures
- Inability to pay attention
- Muscle weakness
- Gastrointestinal issues
The following are a few emotional indicators of an eating disorder:
- Obsession with food, body image, or weight.
- Low self-esteem that’s characterized by feelings of unworthiness or a negative body image
- Negative emotions such as anxiety and sadness
- Feeling anxious about food
- Changes in mood such as depression or anxiety, impatience, or moodiness
If you exhibit any of these symptoms, seek professional help. Visit our resource center to learn more about disorders and mental health issues.