Eating disorders are mental health illnesses that affect a person’s eating behaviors and patterns. They are brought on by impaired thoughts about one’s own body image, weight, and self-confidence. Eating disorders can lead to serious health consequences and even death, so they are extremely dangerous. Fortunately, treatment can help people living with eating disorders establish healthy eating behaviors and thought patterns. But, earlier detection of eating disorders is crucial to getting help and avoiding lifelong consequences. So, what are the signs of an eating disorder that you should be looking out for and identifying in order to get help?
Some of the most common signs of eating disorders can include:
Some eating disorders, like binge eating disorder (BED), can be identified by specific characteristics. One of the most common signs of BED is hiding food, especially in places that are unapparent. People living with this specific eating disorder may not want others to know that they are bingeing food when these episodes occur. So, they’ll hide food and store it in places that others may not think to look. This allows them to binge eat when they’re alone and when overwhelming feelings arise. Binge eating for someone with this eating disorder may be a means to cope with unwanted thoughts and feelings that they are ashamed to share with others. So, having hidden foods can allow them to use this food when these unwanted thoughts and feelings arise.
Avoidance behaviors surrounding eating can indicate an eating disorder. This includes avoiding eating meals around other people. This has to do with how a characteristic of eating disorders is struggling with self-confidence and self-image. So, people who are living with eating disorders may not feel comfortable eating in front of other people for fear of judgment. They may even avoid going to events or holiday gatherings if there will be food available to them.
People living with eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder may experience severe weight fluctuations. This is due to cutting out complete food groups or binging large amounts of food over short periods of time. So, if you notice that you or a loved one is consistently losing or gaining weight, this may be a sign of an eating disorder.
People living with eating disorders can obsess over the fact that they want to lose weight. This is because they struggle with body image issues. For example, people living with anorexia may not think that they’re thin even though they are underweight. So, they will obsess over ways to lose weight and use extreme methods including over-exercising, counting calories, going on fad diets, using laxatives, etc. So, if you’re doing these things in order to lose weight, this may be a sign that you’re struggling with an eating disorder.
While any demographic of people can struggle with eating disorders, they’re most common in young adults. Yellowbrick offers mental health services, including eating disorder treatment, for young adults living with eating disorders in the Chicago area. Find out more about how we can help by reading more about our programs and services on our website.
Yellowbrick collaborates with adolescents and emerging adults, ages 16-30's, their families and participating professionals toward the development and implementation of a strategic “Life Plan.” An integrative, multi-specialty consultation clarifies strengths, limitations, and risks, and defines motivations, goals and choices.
A mental health condition that’s characterized by intense shifts in mood including both manic and depressive episodes.
People living with Major Depressive Disorder, or MDD, experience episodes of depression and sadness that are debilitating to daily life.
Those living with anxiety disorders experience high levels of anxiety and stress that interfere negatively with daily life.
A mental health issue in which a person’s cognitive function is impaired, resulting in symptoms like experiencing challenges with conducting speech, reading and writing, and behavior.
Mental health disorders that negatively affect a person’s behaviors, thought patterns, and function. People diagnosed with these disorders experience challenges with managing relationships and understanding various situations.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a mental health condition that people can develop as a result of experiencing traumatic situations, characterized by symptoms including flashbacks, avoidance behaviors, and more.
A mental health condition that is characterized by specific symptoms of forgetfulness and lack of concentration, which makes it challenging to complete necessary tasks.
Mental health conditions that interfere with a person’s eating habits, thought patterns, and behaviors in negative ways.
A mental health disorder diagnosable with the DSM-5 that is characterized by both obsessions and compulsive behaviors.