The National Institute of Mental Health has found out that 3% of teenagers and 4% of adults in the United States suffer from eating disorders, yet are not being treated.
The reason for this is because they are surrounded by people who do not really recognize the warning signs.
The thing is, the longer the eating disorder goes on, it is going to be more difficult to treat it, and they run the higher risk of relapse – not to mention the mental and physical consequences.
Anorexia is a psychological and life-threatening eating disorder. And most sufferers of the illness are often not aware or refuse to admit that they are ill. Battling anorexia is also battling their own minds.
As friends, sisters, and family members of people who might be struggling with anorexia or other eating disorders, it is important we learn how to spot the red flags and ensure that they get the help they need.
Here are 7 subtle signs we should look out for:
1. Obsessive Weight Concerns
They will obsessively express concern about their weight, and/or body shape. Most of them excessively talk about going through extreme diets to change the way they look.
2. Excessive Exercise
People who are developing eating disorders usually engage in increasing exercise routine or excessive workout sessions without also increasing their caloric intake. Most of them feel extremely anxious if they miss a sweat session.
3. Meticulous Meal Preparation
While meal planning is well and good, people with anorexia and other eating disorders unusually become more interested in cooking without necessarily eating the meals they make. They also prefer creating their own ‘safer’ meal options instead of eating what the rest of the family is eating.
4. Obsessive Control Over Food
Those who struggle with anorexia become profusely upset whenever they lose control over a situation involving food. For example, when dinner plans change, or when the diner isn’t serving the meal they prefer.
5. Odd Behaviors During And After Meals
If someone you know usually makes frequent excuses to use the bathroom during a meal, or refuses to eat in front of anyone, as well as engage in strange rituals involving food such as eating them in a certain order – they might be already secretly suffering from anorexia or other eating disorders. These are red flags that need to be addressed as soon as possible.
6. Mood Swings
While mood swings are normal for everyone, people with anorexia and other eating disorders become more depressed, irritable, anxious, and fatigued than normal. Eating disorders are almost always accompanied by other mental health issues, so it is best to keep an eye out on their mental well-being and not just their eating patterns.
7. Energy Levels At Extremes
This can go two ways – first, they might be extremely lifeless, not energetic at all, seem down, and are disinterested in the things they once enjoyed. On the other hand, they may also be extremely energetic and enthusiastic, taking on all sorts of activities and responsibilities with their 100%.
While none of these signs are diagnostic and conclusive, these may be helpful markers to help you spot a friend or family member who may be struggling with anorexia or other eating disorders on their own, and be able to offer help according to what they need.
Learn more by reading the original article by National Eating Disorders Organization here.
Have you had personal encounters with anorexia? Tell us your story in the comments below.