An estimated 9% of people in the U.S. will have an eating disorder in their lifetime. Additionally, there are over 10,000 deaths resulting from an eating-related disorder every year, making eating disorders the second deadliest mental illness behind opioid overdoses. Unfortunately, few people realize how severe eating-related disorders are in the U.S., which is why February was designated as Eating Disorders Awareness and Screening Month.
Signs of an Eating Disorder
It’s important that you be able to identify if a loved one is struggling with an eating-related disorder to get them the help they need. With that in mind, the following are a few signs that indicate someone may have an eating disorder:
- Significant weight loss: If a person has lost too much weight, it could be the result of anorexia, which is a disorder in which a person stops eating. Someone who weighs less than 85% of their ideal body weight could be suffering from anorexia.
- Binging without weight gain: If you notice that someone will purge when they eat, meaning that they will eat a substantial amount of food at any given time, but they never gain weight, they may be struggling with bulimia. Bulimia is a disorder in which a person will binge on food, then immediately purge it from their system.
- Preoccupied with self-image: Individuals who spend a lot of time looking at themselves in the mirror, making negative comments about their weight, or who are preoccupied with their perception of the ideal body may have some sort of eating-related disorder.
- Eating patterns have changed: If the eating patterns of a person have changed, there could be an issue. For example, if they no longer eat family meals, are obsessed with counting calories, eat smaller portions or no longer eat at all, go to the bathroom after every meal, or binge certain foods, they may have an eating-related disorder.