It may be difficult to distinguish from normal dieting at first, but over time eating disorders tend to develop telltale signs.
In general, says the National Eating Disorders Association, you should be concerned if someone’s actions and attitudes show that weight loss, dieting and control of food are becoming main concerns, or if the person is withdrawing from friends and activities that he or she used to enjoy.
Eating disorders can also have more specific symptoms. The symptoms of anorexia can include:
The symptoms of bulimia can include:
If you have these symptoms, talk to your doctor or a counselor immediately. Eating disorders are harder to treat as time goes on, and they can become deadly.
If someone you care about shows these signs, encourage your loved one to get help. Be gentle, supportive and sensitive. Share that you’re worried, but don’t talk about body weight. Talk about health, and about how dangerous these disorders can become.
For more information on eating disorders, and how to get help for yourself or someone you love, visit the Eating disorders health topic center.