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Carolinas HealthCare System
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Title
Eating Disorders – Recognizing the Signs
Date
05/26/2014
Article

A popular misconception about eating disorders is that if someone has one, it will be obvious by their low weight and starvation habits. The reality is those suffering from eating disorders can be of any weight and are often adept at hiding their illness.

Eating disorders – such as anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder – can have serious consequences for health, productivity and relationships. They are not a fad, phase or lifestyle choice. They are, in fact, illnesses.

According to Courtney Perkins, registered dietitian at The Center for Disordered Eating at Teen Health Connection, part of Carolinas HealthCare System, eating disorders currently affect 20 million females and 10 million males nationwide. But, she says, many cases go unreported or diagnosed because of the shame associated with these conditions. Research shows anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder.

If you or someone you love is experiencing these basic characteristics of some of the most common types of eating disorder, it’s time to get professional help:

Anorexia Nervosa

  • Restricting food intake to amounts below what is required for your body type
  • Intense fear of weight gain
  • Obsession with weight and efforts to prevent weight gain
  • Inability to recognize true body shape or recognize the seriousness of the condition
  • Binge eating (eating large amounts of food frequently and quickly) or purging behaviors (making yourself vomit or using laxatives to rid yourself of food you’ve eaten)

Bulimia Nervosa

  • Eating an unusually large amount of food at one time, followed by behaviors such as vomiting, taking laxatives or excessive exercise to prevent weight gain
  •  A feeling of being out of control during the binge-eating occurrence
  • Self-judgment largely based on weight and shape

Binge Eating Disorder

  • Recurrent situations of eating an unusually large amount of food at one time
  • A feeling of being out of control during the behavior
  • Feelings of shame or guilt about eating, which can lead to eating alone
  • Eating until you are beyond full, to the point of discomfort

A popular misconception about eating disorders is that if someone has one, it will be obvious by their low weight and starvation habits. The reality is those suffering from eating disorders can be of any weight and are often adept at hiding their illness.

If you or someone you know is experiencing an eating disorder, please call The Center for Disordered Eating at Teen Health Connection at 704-381-8364.

For more information on eating disorders and other mental illnesses, please call the Carolinas HealthCare System Behavioral Health Help Line at 704-444-2400 or 800-418-2065. Our staff of masters-level mental health professionals and registered nurses are available 24-hours a day, seven days a week.

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