Eating disorders are complicated disorders which can impact a person’s physical, social/emotional and psychological health. There are many misconceptions about eating disorders which can be confusing, and make it difficult to know when to get help. People can have eating disorder thoughts (such as a strong drive for thinness, fear of fat/weight gain) but do not show any physical signs of engaging in the behaviors; or, they can have disordered eating behavior without endorsing the beliefs.
Further complicating the issue is the wide-spread cultural emphasis on the pursuit of thinness in the name of health which can mask the presence of an eating disorder. Untreated eating disorders can cause serious damage and pose the highest risk of death than any other mental health disorder. Eating disorders affect all genders, and can start in children as young as 5 years old.
The Most Common ED Diagnoses
Binge Eating Disorder
Avoidant and Restricted Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)
There are also non-specific presentations of eating disorders and “sub-clinical” eating disorders, which might be a combination of several behaviors and/or where someone might have some but not all the symptoms of a diagnosis, or someone with some of the symptoms but not enough to meet the specific diagnostic criteria.
Your loved one might deny there is a problem or insist you are over-reacting. If you have any concerns and/or think your child or loved one exhibits any of the above symptoms, do not hesitate to seek help. These are potentially life-threatening disorders, and are treatable.
For more information on eating disorders, support and/or treatment, I recommend exploring the following resources: