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Signs and Symptoms of an Eating Disorder 

ANOREXIA NERVOSA

Physiological

  • Weight Loss-Often in a short period of time. At least 15% of original weight
  • Cessation of menstruation
  • Paleness
  • Complaints of feeling cold / low body temperature
  • Dizziness and fainting spells / low blood pressure
  • Bone mineral loss, leading to osteoporosis
  • Irregular heart beat which can lead to cardiac arrest
  • Loss of muscle and body fat
  • Hair Loss
  • Dry skin


Behavioral

  • Restricted eating, sever diets, fasting, “vegetarianism”
  • Odd food rituals, food combinations
  • Avoidance of social situations where food may be present
  • Compulsive exercise
  • Dressing in layers to hide weight loss, or keep warm
  • Bingeing (may be secretive or infrequent)
  • Distortion of body image (seeing self as fat even when emaciated)
  • Intense Fear of becoming fat, regardless of low weight
  • Use of laxatives, enemas, or diuretics
  • Interest in cooking and feeding others


Attitude Shifts

  • Mood shifts / depression / anxiety
  • Perfectionistic attitude
  • Insecurities about capabilities regardless of actual performance
  • Self-worth is determined by food intake
  • Social isolation


From Surviving an Eating Disorder. Siegel. M. et al (1988). Harper and Row and from American Anorexia Bulimia Association, Facts on Eating Disorders.

BULIMIA NERVOSA

Physiological

  • Person may be under-, over-, or normal weight
  • Swollen glands, puffiness in the cheeks, or broken vessels under the eyes
  • Sore throat
  • Fatigue and muscle ache
  • Unexplained tooth decay
  • Frequent weight fluctuations
  • Electrolyte imbalance which can lead to irregular heartbeat, and in some cases, cardiac arrest.


Behavioral

  • Secretive eating (missing food)
  • Avoidance of restaurants, planned meals or social events if food is present
  • Self-disgust when too much has been eaten
  • Bathroom visits after meals
  • The use of diet pills
  • Rigid and harsh exercise regimes
  • Fear of being fat, regardless of weight
  • Bingeing that may alternate with fasting
  • Preoccupation / constant talk about food or weight
  • Vomiting and laxative use
  • Shoplifting (sometimes food or laxatives)


Attitude Shifts

  • Mood shifts including depression, sadness, guilt, and self-hate
  • Severe self-criticism
  • The need for approval
  • Self-worth determined by weight
  • Feeling out of control


-- From Surviving an Eating Disorder. Siegel. M. et al (1988). Harper and Row and from American Anorexia Bulimia Association, Facts on Eating Disorders.

BINGE EATING DISORDER

Physiological

  • Weight-related hypertension or fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Heart Disease


Behavioral

  • Bingeing
  • Restriction of activities because of embarrassment about weight
  • Going from one diet to the next
  • Eating small amounts in public while maintaining a high weight


Attitude Shifts

  • Feeling about self based on weight and control of eating
  • Fantasizing about being thin
  • Depression
  • Guilt / shame


From Surviving an Eating Disorder. Siegel. M. et al (1988). Harper and Row and from American Anorexia Bulimia Association, Facts on Eating Disorders.

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