Signs and Symptoms of Eating Disorders | Banyan Treatment Centers

Signs and Symptoms of Eating Disorders

Signs and Symptoms of Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are behavioral conditions characterized by severe and persistent disturbances in a person’s eating habits, often which are associated with distressing thoughts and emotions. Eating disorders have a high mortality rate, with anorexia nervosa having the highest death rate among all mental disorders. These conditions can become life-threatening, impacting an individual’s physical, psychological, and social functions. Our center for eating disorders in Philadelphia is sharing the signs and symptoms of eating disorders to educate the public and increase the likelihood of recovery among affected individuals.

 

How Many Types of Eating Disorders Are There?

There are seven types of eating disorders, which include:

  • Anorexia 
  • Bulimia Nervosa
  • Binge eating disorder
  • Other specified feeding and eating disorder (OSFED)
  • ARFID/Avoidant restrictive food intake disorder
  • Pica
  • Rumination disorder


Each of these conditions, while defined by their disturbances in eating behaviors, produces different symptoms. For instance, binge eating disorder symptoms may differ from anorexia nervosa symptoms because of certain behaviors like purging and binge eating (eating a large amount of food within two hours.)

Eating disorders often co-occur with other mental illnesses, most common anxiety and mood disorders like depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and substance use disorders. There’s also evidence to suggest that eating disorders are genetic and inheritable.

However, while individuals with a family history of eating disorders have a higher risk of developing one themselves, these conditions can occur in anyone. With proper medical care, the signs and symptoms of eating disorders can be managed, and the individual can learn how to resume healthy eating habits and recover their physical and mental health.



Common Signs and Symptoms of Eating Disorders

Again, it’s important to note that the signs and symptoms of eating disorders vary depending on the type of condition. While all are associated with disturbed eating habits, they don’t all present themselves in the same way. 

Understanding these differences and being able to recognize various eating disorder physical symptoms and emotional signs is crucial to early discovery and treatment. The sooner you realize what’s happening, the higher the individual’s chances of recovery.



Emotional Signs of Eating Disorders

  • Preoccupation with food, calories, weight, body shape, and dieting
  • Refusal to eat certain foods
  • Avoiding certain food groups (like carbohydrates or sugars)
  • Refusal to eat around others
  • Engaging in food rituals, such as chewing a certain number of times 
  • Skipping meals or eating small portions of food at regular meals
  • Withdrawal from usual friends and enjoyable activities
  • Decreased performance at school or work
  • Frequent dieting
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Extreme concern with body size, weight, and shape
  • Frequent checking in the mirror for perceived flaws in appearance


Physical Symptoms of Eating Disorders

  • Dizziness or fainting due to dehydration
  • Always feeling cold
  • Noticeable weight loss or weight gain
  • Gastrointestinal problems, such as stomach cramping, constipation, and bloating
  • Irregular or stopped menstrual cycles, or only having a menstrual cycle while on contraceptives (not considered a “true” period
  • Difficulties concentrating
  • Abnormal laboratory findings (such as anemia, low thyroid and hormone levels, low potassium, low white and red blood cell counts
  • Frequent dizziness and fainting, especially upon standing
  • Feeling cold all the time
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Cuts and calluses across the top of finger joints (a result of inducing vomiting)
  • Irritated and cracked knuckles from inducing vomiting 
  • Dry and brittle hair, skin, and nails
  • Swelling around the salivary glands, face, and jaw
  • Growth of fine hair all over the body (lanugo)
  • Muscle weakness
  • Dental problems, such as enamel erosion, cavities, discoloration of teeth, and tooth sensitivity from vomiting 
  • Bone loss or thinning (osteoporosis)
  • Yellow skin (most common in people who eat large amounts of carrots)
  • Cold, mottled hands and feet or swelling of feet
  • Poor wound healing
  • Impaired immune function


Common Symptoms of Eating Disorders By Type



Anorexia Nervosa
  • Preoccupation with food, calories, weight, body shape, and dieting
  • Heartburn and acid reflux (common in those who purge or vomit)
  • Stress fractures from compulsive exercising
  • Bone loss or thinning (osteoporosis)
  • Excessive exercising 
  • Dramatic weight loss


Bulimia Nervosa
  • Evidence of binge eating, such as the disappearance of large amounts of food in short periods, lots of empty containers and
  • Evidence of purging or throwing up after periods of binge eating, such as frequent trips to the bathroom after meals and signs or smells of vomiting
  • Packages or containers of laxatives or diuretics
  • Dental problems, such as enamel erosion, cavities, discoloration of teeth, and tooth sensitivity from vomiting 
  • Calluses in the back of the hands and knuckles from self-induced vomiting or purging 


Binge Eating Disorder
  • Secret recurring episodes of binge eating (eating an amount of food that’s larger than most individuals would eat in the same circumstances within a short period)
  • Feelings of disgust, depression, shame, and low self-esteem after binge eating 
  • Stealing or hoarding food in strange places
  • Creating a lifestyle or schedule that allows one to binge eat
  • Evidence of binge eating, such as the disappearance of large amounts of food in short periods, lots of empty containers and wrappers


Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorder (OSFED)
  • Frequent episodes of consuming large amounts of food followed by compensatory behaviors, such as self-induced vomiting, using laxatives, or excessive exercising to get rid of the extra calories 
  • Evidence of binge eating, such as the disappearance of large amounts of food in short periods, lots of empty containers and wrappers
  • Constantly expresses the need to “burn off” calories
  • Dieting behavior (reducing their food intake or avoiding certain food groups like carbs)
  • Self-esteem dependent on their body image
  • Evidence of purging or throwing up after periods of binge eating, such as frequent trips to the bathroom after meals and signs or smells of vomiting


Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)
  • Sudden and dramatic weight loss
  • Limited range of preferred foods that become narrower over time (picky eating that progressively gets worse)
  • Fears of choking or vomiting
  • No body image disturbance
  • No fear of gaining weight 


Pica
  • Persistent eating, usually over a month, of substances that aren’t food and don’t have any nutritional value
  • Substances that people with pica may ingest include paper, soap, cloth, hair, string, wool, soil, chalk, metal, pebbles, charcoal, talcum powder, paint, gum, ash, clay, starch, or ice


Rumination Disorder
  • Repeated regurgitation of food within a month. Regurgitated food may be rechewed, re-swallowed, or spit out


Finding Help for Eating Disorders

If you notice any of these signs in yourself or a loved one, get help right away. Finding treatment for eating disorders increases the likelihood of recovery.

These disorders can become life-threatening and usually worsen over time when the affected individual does not receive help. If you’re searching for inpatient eating disorder treatment and other forms of related care, our center for eating disorder management in Philadelphia can help.

Upon arrival at our facility, patients undergo a clinical assessment with our specialists so we can develop a care plan for eating disorder treatment that’s right for them. Every single eating disorder is unique, so the treatment that our patients receive should be individualized to meet their needs.

From physical therapy to one-on-one time with our therapists to eating disorder help groups, we offer our patients everything they need to overcome the physical, psychological, and social impact of their eating disorders.

To learn more about our eating disorder treatment in Philadelphia or levels of substance abuse treatment for those also combatting a drug or alcohol addiction, contact Banyan Treatment Centers today, and you’ll be connected with a team member as soon as possible.

 


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