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While the term “eating disorder” points towards food, it’s more about mental health than anything else.
Eating disorders are complex mental conditions that affect the person’s relationship with food and how they view themselves. Depending on the type of eating disorder, a person may starve themselves, force themselves to throw up, or even exercise to the point of exhaustion simply to maintain a certain physique; however, the early signs of an eating disorder aren’t always apparent, especially if you don’t know what to look for. The staff at our center for mental health care in Boca Raton understands the complexities of eating disorders and shares some common signs of eating disorders you should be aware of.
What Is an Eating Disorder?
An eating disorder includes extreme thoughts, emotions, and behaviors surrounding food and weight. A person with an eating disorder may become obsessed with food, their weight, and their body shape. Because these disorders are centered on unhealthy and extreme relationships with food, they can significantly impact a person’s health and even cause death.
The different types of eating disorders include:
- Binge eating disorder: characterized by frequent moments of extreme overeating. A person who has a binge eating disorder may have frequent episodes of eating a large amount of food, feel as if they have no control over their eating habits or experience shame or distress after binging.
- Bulimia nervosa: When a person has bulimia nervosa, they may experience episodes of binge eating followed by behaviors meant to compensate for what they ate, like self-induced vomiting, taking laxatives, or compulsive exercising.
- Anorexia nervosa: This type of eating disorder is characterized by self-imposed starvation and extreme weight loss. People with anorexia nervosa tend to have an extreme fear of gaining weight.
Eating disorders are linked to mental illness; many people who struggle with an eating disorder fail to get the mental health care they need. At Banyan Mental Health, we offer treatment methods for mental illness, including different therapies, that can address the mental aspects of an eating disorder.
What Are the Signs of an Eating Disorder?
All types of eating disorders can be recognized through a variety of warning signs. While certain symptoms may differ according to the type of disorder, some of the general signs of an eating disorder include:
- Dramatic weight loss
- Wearing heavy clothing or warm clothing regardless of the weather
- Intolerance to the cold weather
- Frequent complaints of abdominal pain
- Frequent upset stomach
- Fears of choking or vomiting
- Extreme food restrictions
- Extreme fear of weight gain
- Compulsive exercising
- Dry nails
- Dry skin
- Loss of menstrual period in females
- Low thyroid levels
- Stomach cramps
- Slow healing of wounds
- Weak immune system
When an eating disorder occurs, a person’s body will slow down its functions in an attempt to preserve energy, which can result in physical repercussions. People with eating disorders are also more likely to get sick or contract a disease, which may prove fatal due to their weakened physical state. If you recognize these warning signs of an eating disorder in yourself or someone you know, get help immediately.
While eating disorders imply that they’re about food, they’re actually linked to poor mental health. Mental illness can cause people to resort to a variety of harmful behaviors. For example, a person who’s coping with body dysmorphia may feel the need to make an extreme and unhealthy change in their diet. Self-harm, suicidal behavior, and eating disorders often stem from untreated mental illnesses.
If you or a loved one is struggling with their mental health, call us today at 888-280-4763 for more information about our mental health residential program.