Eating disorders can impact people of all ages. Without professional intervention, these disorders are fatal. Calling eating disorder hotlines can be a helpful first step in finding treatment for someone with anorexia, bulimia, or other disorders of this nature. A hotline for eating disorders is not only a useful resource for the individual but also for friends and family members seeking information about how to help their loved ones. As a Philadelphia eating disorder clinic, we’re sharing some helpful eating disorder hotlines as well as our treatment options.
Eating Disorders: Types and Symptoms
Eating disorders are behavioral conditions characterized by severe and persistent disturbances in eating behaviors, which are associated with thoughts and emotions. They can be very serious conditions affecting physical, psychological, and social functioning. Below are the most common types of eating disorders, each of which is marked by various symptoms.
Anorexia nervosa is a type of eating disorder where the individual avoids food, severely restricts food, or eats very small quantities of only certain foods. They may also weigh themselves repeatedly and even see themselves as overweight, although in reality, they may be severely underweight. There are two subtypes of anorexia: a restrictive subtype and a binge-purge subtype.
Restrictive anorexia is when people with this condition severely limit the amount and type of food they consume. Binge-purge anorexia is when the person greatly restricts the amount and type of food they consume. Additionally, they may have binge-eating and purging episodes – eating large amounts of food in a short time, followed by vomiting or using laxatives or diuretics to get rid of the calories they consumed.
Common symptoms of anorexia nervosa include:
- A relentless pursuit of thinness and unwillingness to maintain a healthy weight
- Distorted body image, a self-esteem that is heavily influenced by perceptions of body weight and shape, or a denial of the seriousness of low body weight
- Extreme thinness (emaciation)
- Extremely restricted eating
- Intense fear of gaining weight
Bulimia nervosa is another kind of eating disorder where the person may have recurrent and frequent episodes of eating unusually large amounts of food and feeling a lack of control over these binge episodes. Binge-eating behavior is followed by behavior that compensates for the overeating, such as self-induced vomiting, excessive use of laxatives or diuretics, fasting, excessive exercise, or a combination of these behaviors.
Common symptoms of bulimia include:
- Acid reflux disorder and other gastrointestinal problems
- Chronically inflamed and sore throat
- Electrolyte imbalance (too low or too high levels of sodium, calcium, potassium, and other minerals), which can lead to stroke or heart attack
- Intestinal distress and irritation from laxative abuse
- Severe dehydration from purging of fluids
- Swollen salivary glands in the neck and jaw area
- Worn tooth enamel and increasingly sensitive and decaying teeth as a result of exposure to stomach acid
People with binge-eating disorder lose control over their eating and have reoccurring episodes of eating unusually large amounts of food. Unlike bulimia nervosa, binge-eating disorder episodes are not followed by purging, excessive exercise, or fasting. As a result, people with this disorder tend to be overweight or obese.
Binge-eating disorder symptoms include:
- Eating alone or in secret to avoid embarrassment
- Eating even when you're full or not hungry
- Eating fast during binge episodes
- Eating until you're uncomfortably full
- Eating unusually large amounts of food in a specific amount of time, such as 2 hours
- Feeling distressed, ashamed, or guilty about your eating
- Frequently dieting, sometimes without weight loss
Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)
Avoidant restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID), previously known as selective eating disorder, is a condition in which the person limits the amount or type of food they eat. Unlike anorexia nervosa, however, people with ARFID don’t have distorted body image or extreme fear of weight gain. ARFID is most common among middle school children and usually has an earlier onset than other eating disorders.
While many children go through phases of picky eating, a child with ARFID doesn’t eat enough calories to grow and develop properly. Adults with ARFID also do not eat enough calories to maintain basic body functions.
ARFID symptoms include:
- Dramatic restriction of types or amount of food eaten
- Dramatic weight loss
- Lack of appetite or interest in food
- Limited range of preferred foods that gradually becomes more limited (“picky eating” that gets progressively worse)
- Upset stomach, abdominal pain, or other gastrointestinal issues with no other known cause
What Is an Eating Disorder Hotline?
An eating disorder hotline is a phone number that can be called to learn more about eating disorders and eating disorder programs. An eating disorder helpline number is staffed by professionals who are knowledgeable about disorders like anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge-eating disorder, and more. Even someone who isn’t necessarily ready to receive treatment or is unsure if they have an eating disorder can benefit from calling an eating disorders hotline.
What Happens When You Call an Eating Disorder Hotline?
Whether your case involves anorexia, bulimia, or binge-eating disorder, calling an eating disorder help hotline is a free, simple, and effective way to learn more about symptoms and treatment options. When you reach out to an eating disorder hotline, the representative may ask questions like:
- Do you or a loved one have an eating disorder?
- Can you describe the nature of the eating disorder?
- Do you/they use alcohol or drugs?
- Are you/they looking for treatment for an eating disorder?
- Have you/they received a diagnosis from a medical professional?
- Have you/they ever received treatment for the disorder?
If you’re the loved one of someone with an eating disorder and you’re calling the hotline to get help, the specialist on the call can help you find options in your area. Furthermore, these services are free, with the exception of certain additional services that may be requested.
National Eating Disorder Hotlines
Below is a list of eating disorder hotlines you can call to find out more about symptoms and treatment options:
The National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA)
- Available Monday – Thursday, 9:00 am EST – 9:00 pm EST, and Friday, 9:00 am EST – 5:00 pm EST.
- Call 1-800-931-2237
- Text “NEDA” to 741-741
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
- Available Monday – Friday, 10:00 am EST – 6:00 pm EST.
- Call 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)
- Text “NAMI” to 741-741
The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD)
- Available Monday – Friday, 9:00 am CST – 9:00 pm CST
- Call 1-888-375-7767
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
- Available 24/7
- Call 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
- Available 24/7
- Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Banyan Treatment Centers Philadelphia
- Available 24/7
- Call 888-219-0442
Additional Treatment Resources for Eating Disorders
In addition to a hotline number, you can call whenever you need us, our drug rehab in Langhorne, PA, offers various eating disorder and addiction treatment programs. From anorexia nervosa treatment to support for people with body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), we’re here to help you or a loved one regain control over their lives.