It’s difficult to answer the question, "What are the signs of an eating disorder?” as they can vary from person to person.
People living with eating disorders often don't display apparent symptoms initially. Indicators start with small behavioral changes that don’t seem like a big deal. As the disease progresses, habits escalate and become more emotionally and physically detrimental.
Recognizing that you or someone you love might have an eating disorder can be overwhelming, especially if you miss initial indicators. Identifying early signs can be the first step towards getting help and developing a healthier relationship with food.
Our outline of early signs of eating disorders lets you know some specific symptoms aligned with different eating disorders.
Signs of Eating Disorders
Eating disorders are complex mental health conditions manifesting through behavioral, emotional, and physical signs.
Early recognition of the signs of an eating disorder early can significantly improve recovery outcomes.
The First Episode Rapid Early Intervention for Eating Disorders (FREED) model resulted in clinical improvements in 53.2% of young adults with anorexia nervosa versus the 17.9% “Treatment as Usual” model.
If you or someone you love presents a troubling combination of the outlined symptoms, seek help as soon as possible. It’s the best chance for long-term recovery and management.
Signs of Anorexia Nervosa
People with anorexia nervosa have an overwhelming fear of weight gain, resulting in extreme food restrictions. This disorder can result in dangerous weight loss if left untreated.
The behavioral signs include:
The emotional signs include:
The physical signs include:
Signs of Bulimia
Bulimia manifests as repeated cycles of overeating or “binging,” followed by “purging” behaviors to counteract the binge. Purging behaviors might include vomiting, fasting, or excessive exercise.
The behavioral signs of bulimia include:
The emotional signs of bulimia include:
The physical signs of bulimia include:
Signs of Binge Eating Disorder
Binge eating disorder (BED) is similar to bulimia in that it involves episodes of eating large amounts of food, but there is no purging phase after the binge. People with BED often eat very quickly, often to the point of physical discomfort.
The behavioral signs of BED include:
The emotional signs of BED include:
The physical signs of BED include:
While we hope you found this information insightful, understand that every individual’s experience can present differently. Seeking treatment early is possible if you know the signs of an eating disorder.
Do not rely on this list as a diagnostic tool or substitute for professional medical advice. Only a qualified expert can provide a comprehensive assessment and guide you toward the most appropriate intervention.
If you are experiencing any emotional or medical disorders, seek help as soon as possible to start your journey to recovery to a happier, healthier you.