Signs You Might Have an Eating Disorder

Woman concerned with Symptoms of an Eating Disorder and in therapy

Contributor: Montecatini Team at Montecatini

If you’ve clicked on this article, it’s likely for a reason.

Perhaps you’re struggling with an already-diagnosed eating disorder and are concerned about a relapse. Maybe you’re unsure of whether or not you have an eating disorder.

Learning the symptoms of an eating disorder and showing concern are the first steps toward treatment.

There are a number of risk factors for developing an eating disorder. Some of the risk factors for eating disorders may include:

  • Stress
  • Young age (teens to 30)
  • Low self-esteem
  • Poor body image
  • Being female
  • Personally having a mental illnes
  • Family history of mental illness
  • Having relatives with eating disorders
  • Easily succumbing to peer pressure

Having a family that pressures you about your weight is a risk factor, too. A history of traumatic events such as abuse or sexual assault can also increase your risk of developing an eating disorder. Add to this the fact that our society highly values thinness, and these factors can create the perfect environment for an eating disorder to develop.

While there isn’t much research yet, there is the possibility that being “different” in any way—for instance, having a chronic illness or disability—may increase the likelihood someone could develop an eating disorder. This may not be surprising, as those who are perceived as “different” may feel more pressure to conform.

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Symptoms of eating disorders can vary, depending on which ones you may be experiencing. That said, common symptoms of an eating disorder can include:

  • Constantly thinking about weight and/or food
  • Forcing yourself to vomit
  • Using laxatives frequently
  • Eating too little or not at all
  • Eating too much
  • Eating in secret
  • Boarding or hiding food
  • Working out excessively
  • Making negative comments about your weight despite what others sa
  • Obsessively weighing yourself
  • Weight loss
  • Weight gain
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Weakness
  • Feeling cold all the time, even in hot weather
  • Growing fine hair all over your body
  • Missing periods or having them stop completely
  • Struggling to concentrate
  • Confusion
  • Constantly counting calories
  • Mood swings
  • Increase in dental problems such as cavities
  • Asian American Woman or Girl Reading a BookFatigue, or being tired all the time
  • Being overly focused on how you look
  • Substance abuse
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Increased infections
  • Dehydration
  • Erratic heartbeat

Without adequate treatment for your eating disorder, you may experience some of the following short- and long-term effects:

  • Damage to relationships
  • Losing jobs or doing poorly in school
  • Weakened bones
  • Malnourishment
  • Vitamin deficiency
  • Cavities and other dental problems
  • High cholesterol and blood pressure
  • High blood sugar
  • Infertility
  • Nerve damage
  • Slowed digestion
  • Heart disease
  • Organ damage
  • Ruptured organs
  • Self-harm
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts
  • Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA)
  • Coma
  • Death

It’s okay if this hits home. If this information feels familiar to you, it might feel alarming.

The first thing you need to know is that this is not your fault. You didn’t do anything to bring this on. It’s neither a punishment nor a sign of weakness. An eating disorder is a complex medical condition and, like similar chronic illnesses, just happens to some of us.

What now?

Woman struggling with Health At Every Size and a Poor Body ImageIf you feel you are developing an eating disorder, please remember that, since this is a complex medical condition, you will need help to heal. Eating disorders require a team of experienced providers. Teams can include dieticians, therapists, and physicians.

You can’t move toward healing if you’re still putting the needs of others above your own. You are worthy of the time, attention, and potential costs of treatment. There is no ideal time to seek help, but putting it off will never lead you toward treatment.

Next steps

If you feel that it’s time to seek help, there are places to turn.

Consider seeing your primary care physician. If you have one, a primary care doctor can be a great guide throughout the diagnosis and treatment process.

Both primary care providers and therapists may be able to help provide options for treatment centers. They may also have suggestions on which types of treatment might work best for you. Keep in mind, though, that they may not be trained in handling eating disorders. The sooner you begin the process to get officially diagnosed, the sooner you can work toward healing.

About Our Sponsor:

Montecatini offers treatment for women age 16 and older for a variety of eating disorders, including anorexia, bulimia, binge-eating disorder, orthorexia, and body dysmorphic disorder. Montecatini also provides co-occurring disorder treatment programs for patients who need care for both an eating disorder and another mental health disorder simultaneously. Located just three miles off the Pacific Coast in scenic Carlsbad, California, Montecatini features gorgeous views and offers premier eating disorder treatment. Depending on their specific needs, patients who come to Montecatini can engage in residential treatment, partial hospitalization programming, intensive outpatient programming, experiential therapies, and a state-of-the-art wellness center. Treatment for eating disorders is possible in the right environment and with intentional and compassionate staff. We invite you to experience our dynamic and vibrant healing community here at Montecatini.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published on May 10, 2019.
Reviewed & Approved on May 10, 2019, by Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC

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About Baxter Ekern

Baxter is the Vice President of Ekern Enterprises, Inc. He is responsible for the operations of Eating Disorder Hope and ensuring that the website is functioning smoothly.