Eating Disorders: Recognizing Signs in Others

Eating Disorders: Recognizing Signs in Others

By Kim Simone

Warning Signs of Eating Disorders

Signs of eating disorders oftentimes go unrecognized by those around the struggling individual. While eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder each have their own risks, it is critical to know that they can be fatal if left untreated for a certain period of time. Fortunately, eating disorders can be treated by mental health care providers. Supportively encouraging an individual struggling with an eating disorder to seek treatment can save their life.

Warning signs may include but are not limited to:

Behavioral Signs:

  • Skipping meals
  • Withdrawal from friends and activities
  • Refusal to eat certain foods
  • Expressing preoccupation with food, weight, nutrition, etc.
  • Consuming only small portions of food at a time

Emotional Signs:

  • Extreme concern with body shape and size
  • Extreme mood swings

Physical Signs:

  • Noticeable fluctuations in weight
  • Dizziness and fainting
  • Feeling cold regularly
  • Difficulties concentrating
  • Stomach cramps and other gastrointestinal issues

Seeking Treatment

It is important to seek help as soon as warning signs appear given that the chance for recovery from an eating disorder increases the earlier it is detected, diagnosed, and treated. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a commonly used psychotherapeutic approach for eating disorder treatment. It emphasizes the interaction between an individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. The approach is centered on shifting negative thoughts and behaviors to more positive thoughts and healthier alternatives.

The treatment for different eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder vary. During treatment, a mental health care provider can screen and treat for other underlying issues, such as anxiety and depression, as these can influence treatment outcomes. Medications can be an effective treatment option when combined with psychotherapy in treating individuals struggling with an eating disorder. Supportively encouraging an individual to seek treatment for an eating disorder can be lifesaving.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit


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