Eating disorder symptoms can be characterized into two levels. The first are those that manifest physically on the body and the second are those which affect the mental attitude of the patient. If these signs can be caught by a person close to the patient, they can be brought in for treatment.
Very often people do not even realize that they suffer from an eating disorder till some physical symptoms make it difficult for them to live and function normally.
Physical eating disorder symptoms
Due to the malnutrition caused by the eating disorder, some signs can be seen in the patient who is suffering from the eating disorder. Here is a list of physical eating disorder symptomsthat you should watch out for:
- Low immunity
- Hair loss
If you have a teenage child who is experiencing any or all of these symptoms you need to monitor their eating habits to deduce if they have a hidden eating disorder. Be particularly concerned if they are showing any signs of purging with aid of medicines such as laxatives.
Some other tell-tale signs of eating disorders that you may be able to spot are vitamin and mineral deficiency related conditions. The lack of fluids can also lead to a diminished menstrual period for the teenage girls. There can be easy breaking off the nails and drying out of the skin. Related bowel problems can also show up.
Mental eating disorder symptoms
The primary purpose of a person with an eating disorder is to keep the body weight down. They associate being thin with being desirable and popular. The wrapped self image is why they begin to exhibit all the classic eating disorder symptoms. So watch out if your teenage girl seems more than taken with how she looks and how much fat she has and how much weight she wants to lose.
The early adolescent years are when the reproductive organs are being developed and if the girls do not take care with their nutrition at this stage they will end up with many gynecological problems at a later date. This is a consequence that many of them do not even think about as they go about reducing their diet and increasing their physical exercise to lose weight.
Helping the patient deal with eating disorders
You need to bring out the problem in the open. Make them understand that what they have is a disease and not something that they need to be ashamed of. Allow them to express their feelings in a non- threatening and supportive environment. Remember their self image is already at an all time low and you could do more damage if you treat them harshly or do not factor in their emotions while dealing with them.
Allow them the outlet of speaking to trusted family members or friends rather than heading over to food to solve the problem. Don’t wait for the symptoms to become so bad that medical intervention is the only way to solve the problem. If you can intervene before it becomes too bad the patient may not even need formal medicines during the treatment.