As eating disorders are complex mental disorders there can be many different signs and symptoms either yourself or a family member could be experiencing. These are mostly physiological, psychological or behavioural. It must be noted that some people do not realise such signs or may hide them and that some signs alone might now indicate an eating disorder. If you suspect yourself or a loved one to be experiencing an eating disorder reach out to your general practitioner, psychologist or other health practitioner for help.
Physical Warnings signs may include;
- Rapid/frequent weight change
- Low energy and tiredness often with dizziness
- Signs of vomit as well as signs of long-term vomiting damage (damage to teeth, cheek swelling, callused fingers)
- Feeling mostly cold, especially noticeable in warm weather
- Decreased libido
- Disturbed menstruation
- Skin, hair and nails drying and thinning
- Worsened immune system and wound healing
- Increased stomach pains/complaints
Psychological Warning signs include;
- Heightened anxiety, discomfort or even loss of control around food or meals
- Use of food as either a reward or punishment (sees food as either good or bad)
- Poor or distorted body image
- Over fixation or prioritising food, weight, exercise and body image to an extent that it is disruptive.
Behavioural Warning Signs Include:
- Compensatory behaviours such as vomiting, laxatives, excessive exercise or signs such as often going to bathroom during/quickly after food
- Eating privately or secretive about food
- Changes in food preferences and obsessive food routine/ diet, preparation and eating (same time everyday, small pieces and extremely slowly eating)
Here at BodyMatters Australasia provides treatment and counselling on body and eating related issues and hosts various resources to educate the public on Eating Disorders. Other resources for Eating Disorder based content include the Butterfly Foundation (https://butterfly.org.au/) as well as Eating Disorders Queensland (https://eatingdisordersqueensland.org.au/) and Eating Disorders Victoria (https://www.eatingdisorders.org.au/).
If you think you or someone you love might have an eating disorder, please do not hesitate to reach out to us for help.
Sources used for this article:
NEDA. Warning Signs and Symptoms. https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/warning-signs-and-symptoms
Byrd, F. (2022). Signs of Eating Disorders: Types and Symptoms. https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/eating-disorders/signs-of-eating-