Early Signs of Eating Disorders

Knowing the early signs of eating disorders is one of the best ways to protect your teen or a loved one from getting into the dangerous stages of an eating disorder. Unfortunately many of these early signs of eating disorders go unnoticed. Focusing on these signs could ultimately save a person's life.

Eating disorders are considered to be the number one biggest causes of mental-illness related deaths in the United States. Only 20 percent of the eight million of Americans with eating disorders ever actually seek treatment. Getting treatment is often the only way to prevent these eating disorder diseases from getting worse. About one in 200 American women have anorexia nervosa, while about three in 100 women in America suffer from bulimia. Out of the eight million, about 10 percent of the number of people with an eating disorder are male. Because eating disorders are linked to such a high mortality rate, it is so important for parents and others to be able to recognize the early signs of eating disorders so you can recognize if there is a problem with your teen, a friend or loved one. About 95 percent of those with eating disorders are in the 12 to 25 age group. Unfortunately, the amount of anorexics that die from the disease is in the five to 10 percent range. About 18 to 20 percent of those with the illness are dead after 20 years, and only about 30 to 40 percent ever fully recover. 

The effects of eating disorders are often long-term and can cause an early death that is heart-disease related or related to other failing organs. This is why it is important to be able to detect these early signs of eating disorders before any major damage has occurred before treatment can begin. 

Early Signs of Eating Disorders:

One of the biggest early signs of an eating disorder is how someone sees themselves. Those with low self-esteem and a distorted body image are more likely to develop an eating disorder. These women and sometimes men will struggle with the way they look to the point they feel that restrictive eating, starvation or throwing up what they eat is the only way they can control their body image. They think the only way they can regain that self-esteem is to become skinny through the harshest means possible.

Thoughts and beliefs about how they look and what they deserve is another major early sign of an eating disorder. Many people with eating disorders also do not believe that they deserve to enjoy food or to get to eat food in general. This is a thought of self-hatred that contributes to the feelings of low self-esteem. This is why psychological treatment or therapy to change this way of thinking is one of the best ways to treat an eating disorder. 

Extreme or compulsive exercise behaviors like working out excessively or getting anxious if they are unable to workout is another common early sign of an eating disorder. Many girls and guys with eating disorders also rely on excessive working out to achieve their unrealistic fitness and weight loss goals. If the individual is already not eating, or not eating much, their ability to work out will be stunted due to lack of energy levels. If the person is struggling to workout effectively because of lack of nutrition, this is a huge red flag warning sign of an eating disorder.

One of the most obvious signs of an eating disorder is drastic changes in a person's eating habits. They might show a strong concern for the types of food they are eating, get upset if they are forced/encouraged to eat meals with the family, will hide food, will try and eat in their bedroom or will find excuses to try and avoid meals.

 Social behaviors like withdrawing from activities, stopping hanging out with friends and avoiding people altogether might be an early sign of an eating disorder as well. Because eating disorders often lead to unhealthy obsessions, it is important to recognize this as a problem that often interferes with regular social interaction. Self-injury and other types of self-harm are also akin to an eating disorder because the act of an eating disorder itself also represents a person harming themselves on purpose. Burning and cutting themselves on purpose is common in those with eating disorders. This mentality goes back to the idea that they deserve to hurt or be in pain.

Getting professional help is truly the only way one can recover from an eating disorder. This often occurs in a facility for those with eating disorders or through individual therapy sessions and group therapy. Getting help for this individual as soon as you see them develop early signs of eating disorders is the best way to prevent the disease from getting worse and taking over the person's life, which often leads to serious medical issues and even death. 

Sources: state.sc.us, casapalmera.com 

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