Eating disorders are serious illnesses that can cause severe physical and psychological problems.
Treatment for eating disorders usually involves a combination of psychotherapy and medication, but most individuals with eating disorders will need ongoing support from friends and family. Sometimes, people with eating disorders need to be hospitalized for treatment or further evaluation.
If you're concerned about yourself or a loved one, seek medical advice as soon as possible -- even if your symptoms don't seem that bad. Eating disorders can progress rapidly, and each person's situation is different.
The most common eating disorders include:
Anorexia nervosa is characterized by self-starvation and excessive weight loss. People with this disorder may weigh less than 85% of what is considered normal for their age and height.
According to Cambridge Eating Disorder Center, signs and symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa are:
Loss of menstrual period
Disturbed by body image and denial of thinness.
Hyperactivity and excessive exercise.
Loss of hair and growth of body hair
Low pulse rate.
Sensitivity to cold.
Nervousness at meal times.
Playing with or cutting food into small pieces.
Increased isolation from family and friends.
Compulsive exercise and compulsive cleaning.
Bulimia nervosa is characterized by binge eating followed by purging behavior such as self-induced vomiting, use of laxatives or diuretics, fasting or excessive exercise. People with bulimia nervosa may eat more than 20,000 calories in one day, then attempt to rid themselves of the food by vomiting and abusing stomach acid neutralizers.
According to Cambridge Eating Disorder Center, signs and symptoms of Bulimia Nervosa are:
Fear of inability to stop eating voluntarily.
Weight fluctuation due to alternate binging and fasting.
Secretive behavior and inconspicuous binge eating.
Puffiness in face and bursting blood vessels in the eyes,
Enamel erosion and tooth decay, esophagus damage, and internal bleeding.
Perfectionism, tendency to be highly self-critical.
Repeated attempts to reduce weight by excessive measures.
Petty stealing of money to buy food for binges.
Binge eating disorder is characterized by binge eating without compensatory behaviors that are associated with Bulimia Nervosa. People who suffer from binge eating disorder have no control over their urge to overeat in a short period of time and typically consume thousands of calories during the "binge."
According to Cambridge Eating Disorder Center, signs and symptoms of Binge Eating Disorder are:
A sense of lack of control over eating while binging.
Eating large amounts of food when not hungry.
Eating alone due to embarrassment over how much one is eating.
Feeling guilty or depressed after binging.
A possible history of marked weight fluctuations.
Depression, anxiety, self-loathing, and interpersonal sensitivity.