Eating disorders are still widely misunderstood, which is one reason they often go undiagnosed. Even though it’s suspected that there are far more people with disordered eating than are reported, it’s estimated that about 28 million Americans are included in the demographic of people who will experience an eating disorder. If you are one of those individuals and looking for eating disorder treatment in Pennsylvania, consider Pennsylvania Adult & Teen Challenge (PAATC).
People with an eating disorder often resist seeking help. Acknowledging that you have a problem is the first, and often the hardest, step. Professional treatment is the most effective route to positive long-term outcomes. To learn more about the signs of an eating disorder or how treatment works, reach out to PAATC by calling 844.442.8673 or using our easy online form.
What Are Eating Disorders?
In general, eating disorders are considered behavioral conditions under the umbrella of mental health disorders. They are characterized by disturbed eating patterns of behavior that are serious and enduring and accompanied by distressing thoughts and emotions. Eating disorders typically have adverse effects on physical and psychological health as well as social functioning.
Eating disorders usually develop in adolescence or young adulthood and are more common among girls and women. However, no gender or age range is immune from this illness and it’s important to recognize the signs of an eating disorder in order to intervene in a timely manner.
Signs of an Eating Disorder
The most common eating disorders involve either restricted and avoidant eating or binging with or without purging or a combination. Because eating disorders in teens and young adults are the most common, chances are your concerns are about someone you care about who is young, maybe your own child. Being aware of the symptoms of the most common eating disorders is the first step to recognizing when someone needs support and treatment. The three most common eating disorders and their symptoms are listed below:
1. Anorexia Nervosa
Severe food restrictions and low body weight characterize anorexia. The following are common symptoms of anorexia:
- Measuring food quantities and calories
- Denial of hunger followed by actual loss of appetite
- Compulsive food restriction
- Extreme body dysmorphia
- Excessive, compulsive exercise routines
- Significant weight loss and potential emaciation
- Psychological signs like depression, withdrawal, and anxiety
- Amenorrhea in females
- Thinning head hair and thickening body hair
2. Bulimia Nervosa
Binging and purging characterize bulimia. The cycles can occur many times a day or just a few times a week. People with bulimia can often maintain a normal weight so the disorder often goes unnoticed. Warning signs include:
- Unusual eating habits or rituals
- Hiding food or food wrappers/containers
- Disappearing into the bathroom after meals (this is when and where purging takes place)
- Dependence on laxatives or diuretics
- Fatigue and muscle weakness
- Damaged, discolored teeth
- Tendency to overachieve
- Excessive exercise
- Bad breath
- Irregular menstruation or amenorrhea
- Scarring in throat, frequent sore throat, pitted tonsils
3. Binge Eating Disorder
Binge eating disorder is similar to bulimia without the purging. As with the other two disorders, teens with this disorder usually lack an accurate body image. Signs of binge eating disorder include:
- Eating in private
- Hiding evidence of binges
- Eating that is linked to stress, hopelessness, or feelings of powerlessness
- Shame and guilt around eating
- A sense of being out of control
- Health consequences, like hypertension, diabetes, irregular menstruation, and heart disease
People who overcome an eating disorder through therapy and other forms of evidence-based treatment can go on to live healthy lives without disordered eating. Without treatment, symptoms of eating disorders can continue through adulthood and lead to lasting negative health consequences.
Treatment for Eating Disorders in Teens and Adults at PAATC
If you’re concerned about the disordered eating of yourself or a loved one, please reach out to PAATC to start the process of getting help. We can answer your questions and offer assurance that help is available and you aren’t alone in your struggles.