How To Identify And Help A Person


In today’s world, many suffer from an eating disorder. It is a rather severe disease and according to statistics, one person dies from it every hour. Usually, adolescents and girls aged 13–20 years suffer from eating disorders, but that doesn’t imply that everyone else is immune to it.

Doctors have found that one teenager in a 100 suffers from eating disorders, and 9 out of 10 are girls. Also at risk are those teens who are professionally engaged in dancing, and sports like jogging, gymnastics, figure skating, etc.

eating-disorder-how-to-identify-and-help-a-person
Photo: Polina Tankilevitch | Pexels

An eating disorder is a mental condition where sufferers experience an unhealthy attitude towards food, and deviation from normal eating behavior. Patients with this condition eat either too much or too little, and cannot adequately assess their bodies. Eating disorder includes a wide array of conditions, and each have different symptoms, but sometimes, they can overlap.

Types of eating disorder

Currently, there are six (6) major types of eating disorder, and they are as follows:

  1. Bulimia
  2. Anorexia nervosa
  3. Binge eating disorder
  4. Pica
  5. Rumination disorder
  6. Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder

For the purpose of this article, we will be focusing on the first two.

#1. Bulimia

What is Bulimia?

With bulimia, a person loses control over him/herself and absorbs food in huge portions, and then tries to get rid of food: (s)he takes laxatives or diuretics, induces vomiting, and goes in for sports. If bouts of overeating are observed at least 2 times a week for 3-4 months, you need to seek help from a specialist.

Here are the warning signs of bulimia:

  • Uncontrolled bouts of hunger.
  • Inadequate perception of one’s own body: a person sees and feels fat.
  • While eating, a bulimia sufferer cannot stop, even when hunger has been abated.
  • After eating, this person often locks him/herself in the bathroom or toilet to get rid of the food.
  • A person prefers to eat alone so that no one sees how much he eats.
  • After eating, her/his mood deteriorates as he experiences feelings of guilt and frustration.
  • (S)he goes in for sports too hard to “work out” what has been eaten.
  • A sufferer’s weight fluctuates constantly.
  • This person seeks to hide his/her behavior and condition.

What can be the consequences of bulimia:

  • Gaining weight due to uncontrolled food intake.
  • Stomach pain.
  • Dizziness and weakness.
  • Peptic ulcer disease.
  • Decay of tooth enamel and loss of teeth. These are also the consequences of exposure to hydrochloric acid on the oral cavity.
  • Broken blood vessels in the eyes. It can happen due to a lack of nutrients in the body and excessive physical exertion.

#2. Anorexia nervosa

What is anorexia nervosa

Photo: Annie Spratt | Unsplash

With anorexia nervosa, a person is obsessed with the idea of losing weight in any way: (s)he eats extremely little and tries to burn as many calories as possible. However, it is not entirely correct to argue that anorexia is just excessive thinness. It is a mental illness that does not depend on a person’s weight. It is impossible to identify the disease only by appearance.

Alarming symptoms of the disease:

  • A person is afraid of gaining weight, so (s)he ultimately refuses high-calorie foods.
  • Feels fat all the time. The problem is that no matter how many kilograms this person loses, the feeling will not leave him/her.
  • During the day, (s)he thinks about food and calories, and remembers what (s)he ate during the day.
  • (S)he weighs him/herself every day, and if the number on the scale doesn’t suit him/her, (s)he gets stressed.
  • (S)he is intimidated by the need to eat, especially in public, and often prefers to eat in solitude.
  • Begins every day by going to the fitness club and playing sports.
  • A person can’t objectively assess him/herself, even if everyone around says (s)he is exhausted.
  • A lot of baggy clothes appear in this person’s wardrobe in order to hide thinness.
  • This person claims never to be hungry.

Possible consequences:

  • Exhaustion of the body.
  • Hormonal disruption: girls tend to have menstrual irregularities or never have their mensuration.
  • Depression and lack of control over emotions.
  • Constant weakness, headaches, chills, and inability to keep warm.
  • Cardiac arrhythmias and muscle spasms.
  • Suicidal thoughts because a person cannot get an “ideal” body

How to help someone with eating disorders

Photo: Annie Spratt | Unsplash

The most important thing is to realize that an eating disorder is not a whim. It is an illness. If you do not take action in time, it can lead to other health issues, and even death. Therefore, if you notice at least two signs of eating disorders in your close friends or relatives, you need to go to the doctor. Eating disorders are usually treated in complex by several specialists: a pediatrician, a nutritionist, and a psychotherapist.

The support and involvement of the family, the willingness of relatives to come to the rescue, and support are also essential.


Medical Disclaimer

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