Eating Disorders

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Eating Disorders Guide

Alison Beaver

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Recognize an Eating Disorder

By Dr. Carrie Jones Expert HERWriter
Eating Disorders related image Photo: Getty Images

Do you or someone you know have an eating disorder? Would you know how to recognize it? I ask because many people associate eating disorders with women in their early teens into their 20s but don’t think to look at their friends and family later in life. This is an important distinction because an eating disorder can happen at any age, and while it more often affects women, men are also at risk.

There are a few types of eating disorders, such as anorexia, bulimia (purging and non-purging), and a "not otherwise classified" type that includes binge eating. No matter what, they can cause very serious, life-threatening complications that could result in death as they impact every aspect of the body from the endocrine system to the cardiovascular system, and even the neurological system.

Do not assume only very thin or overweight individuals are affected as the typical, normal weight person may suffer daily and keep it hidden. Typical symptoms to look out for with anorexia include: weight loss, change in eating patterns, skipping meals, reported "loss of appetite", ordering food and not eating, pushing food around the plate but not eating, chronic dieting, fad diets, use of diet pills, fatigue, hair loss, poor skin, loss of muscle tone, weakness, dizziness, headaches, moodiness, heart palpitations or skipped beats, shortness of breath, irregular periods, loss of period, infertility, bone fractures, depression, and mood swings.

Typical symptoms for bulimia include: weight change up or down (or both), change in eating patterns, skipping meals then eating in hiding, hiding food, use of diuretics or laxatives to lose weight, diarrhea due to laxatives, vomiting after meals, excusing themselves to the bathroom after meals, being secretive after eating, using purging medications, chronic dieting, teeth erosion, bad breath, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, mood swings, depression, poor skin, hair loss, headaches, heart palpitations or skipped beats, and changes in the menstrual cycle.

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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