Eating Disorder Symptoms and Phobias

Eating disorder symptoms can vary according to the disorder in question. Anorexia and bulimia patients display different symptoms from those who suffer from binge eating disorders, and not all people with eating disorders display all the potential symptoms. Often, people with eating disorders experience phobias, though not all people who suffer from phobias also suffer from an eating disorder. Here are some of the symptoms and phobias that could indicate an eating disorder.

Types of Eating Disorders

There are three main types of eating disorders: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder. Anorexics believe that they’re hideously overweight, even though they may be dangerously underweight and even suffering from the effects of malnutrition. Bulimics also believe they’re overweight, fear gaining more weight, and want to lose weight. They experience periods of binge eating in which they feel they’ve lost control of themselves, followed by periods of purging in which they vomit up the food they ate during the binge.

Those with binge eating disorder also binge on food, but they don’t feel the need to purge themselves of the calories afterward. People suffering from binge eating disorder may eventually suffer from oobesity.

Symptoms of Anorexia and Bulimia

Anorexics feel that they’re overweight and fear that they’re gaining more weight even when they’re dangerously underweight. They suffer from a psychological condition known as body dysmorphia, which makes them literally unable to see how thin they are, so that they continue to believe they’re fat. Anorexics may exhibit extreme weight loss and may perform a range of behaviors related to their fear of gaining weight and their all consuming obsession with food.

Symptoms of anorexia include:

  • Obsession with weight or perceived weight problems, obsession with food, calories, diets and dieting, and exercise
  • Sudden, drastic weight loss
  • Unwillingness to eat around others, secretive behavior surrounding food
  • Noticeable restriction of food intake, often to only a few hundred calories a day
  • Keeping records of food eaten
  • Hair loss
  • Low blood pressure
  • Cessation of menstrual cycle
  • Mood swings, depression and low self esteem
  • Frequent illnesses

Bulimics also fear gaining weight and want to lose weight, and they have a poor body image. Unlike anorexics, most bulimics maintain a normal body weight. However, bulimics engage in eating binges in which they feel they can’t control their eating and may consume thousands of calories. Afterward, they suffer from feelings of guilt and shame and purge their bodies of the extra calories by vomiting or by using diuretics and laxatives. 

Symptoms of bulimia include:

  • Going to the bathroom after eating
  • Obsessive exercise
  • Excessive use of diet pills, diuretics or laxatives
  • Swollen cheeks
  • Calluses on the knuckles
  • Tooth decay

Binge eating disorder causes the sufferer to binge eat, but without the need to purge the body afterward. Binge eating eventually leads to obesity.

Phobias Associated with Eating Disorders

People with eating disorders often also suffer from certain phobias, specifically social phobia and agoraphobia. Those with agoraphobia only feel safe in the home and fear leaving it. Those will social phobia fear the scrutiny of others and may refuse to eat or do other activities in the presence of others. Some people with eating disorders may develop a phobia of food itself. 


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