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Signs & Symptoms

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are very serious but treatable mental and physical illnesses that can affect anyone. Left untreated, eating disorders can result in serious medical conditions or even death. It is estimated that 20 million American women and 10 million American men will have an eating disorder sometime in their lives. Eating disorders are not a choice but a complex medical/psychiatric illness. Eating disorders often co-occur with other mental health conditions such as major depressive disorder, anxiety and obsessive- compulsive disorder.
Types of Eating Disorders:
Anorexia Nervosa: Characterized by extreme weight loss, distorted body image and inability to keep an appropriate or healthy weight.
Bulimia Nervosa: Characterized by binge eating and self-induced vomiting to compensate for binge eating
Binge Eating Disorder: Characterized by recurrent episodes of eating large quantities of food, feeling a loss of control during a binge and experiencing intense shame or anxiety after a binge
Laxative Abuse: Characterized by repeated, frequent use of laxatives to eliminate unwanted calories
Compulsive Exercise: Characterized by a rigid exercise routine that significantly interferes with important activities, occurs at inappropriate times and a feeling of intense anxiety or guilt if unable to exercise
Signs and Symptoms of Eating Disorders
  • Dramatic weight loss or dramatic weight gain
  • Preoccupation with eating, types of acceptable foods to eat or restrictive amounts of food
  • Uncomfortable eating around others
  • Social withdrawal
  • Mood swings
  • Stomach cramps, constipation r acid reflux
  • Fainting or dizziness
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Dental problems
  • Dry skin and brittle nails
  • Obsession with appearance
Treatment for eating disorders is multi-faceted. Typically, all types of treatment will include a physician, a psychiatrist, a psychotherapist, a dietitian and a case manager.
Treatment options
  • Residential treatment
  • Intensive Outpatient treatment
  • Outpatient psychotherapy with a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy component
If you think you may have an issue with an eating disorder, the earlier the intervention, the more successful the treatment will be. Please consider contacting your primary care physician, calling the Eating Disorder Helpline at 1-800-931-2237 or contact NHLAP to go over your options.