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Eating Disorders occur more frequently among teenage and young adult females. Increasingly, older women are reporting eating disorders. A higher incidence occurs in activities where the body and thinness in particular are a major focus. Following are signs that may indicate that a person is either developing or has an eating disorder:

Physical Signs

  • Irregularity/cessation of menstrual periods
  • Extreme sensitivity to cold
  • Erratic sleeping habits
  • Thinning of hair; hair loss
  • Yellowish tone to skin; sickly/anaemic looking
  • Swollen facial glands; sore throat; visible dental problems
  • Scarring/red abrasions on top of hands/knuckles

Attitudes and Behaviour

  • Preoccupation with food; reading recipes; preparing food only for others
  • Rearranging food on a plate; cutting food into tiny pieces before eating
  • Ritualistic habits/patterns with food; hoarding of food
  • Preoccupied with what others think of them
  • Unrealistic perception of body shape
  • Intense fear of weight gain; fear of fat
  • Guilt/fear about eating meals
  • Refusing to eat meals with anyone else; saying they have already eaten
  • Trips to bathroom directly after eating
  • Social withdrawal; resistance to change
  • Disturbed about sexuality (physically or sexually abused)
  • Compulsive dieting; rigid exercise regimes
  • Use of laxatives, enemas, water and/or diet pills
  • Wearing baggy or layered clothing to conceal weight loss
  • Denial there is a problem; becoming angry/defensive

Emotional / Personality Changes

  • Indecisiveness
  • Depression; irritability; anxiety; moodiness
  • Extreme sensitivity to comments/criticism
  • Low self-esteem; self-loathing
  • Impulsive; controlling
  • Poor concentration; impaired judgment
  • Perfectionist; driven; obsessive