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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How do I know if I have an eating disorder

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    The Butterfly Foundation was founded in August 2002 by Claire Vickery who found many ‘gaps’ in the public health system for those experiencing eating disorders. … View Profile

    It is important to be aware of the warning signs of an eating disorder. If you or someone you know are experiencing these symptoms it may mean that you are at risk of developing an eating disorder, or be experiencing one already.

    The signs to be most cautious of occur in clusters. It is important to seek help and support as soon as possible for an eating disorder,as it has been shown that early intervention allows the chances of a shorter recovery time.

    Physical Signs

    • Rapid fluctuation in weight (loss or gains)
    • Menstrual changes and irregularities
    • Poor dental heath, such as gum disease and enamel loss
    • Broadening jaw line and swollen salivary glands due to vomiting
    • Feeling consistently cold with poor circulation
    • Unexplained fainting, dehydration and/or electrolyte disturbances
    • Poor sleep quality, tiredness
    • Use of appetite suppressants, laxatives, diuretics
    • Somatic compaints – Gastrointestinal disorders (bloating, constipation, intolerance to foods)

    Behavioural Signs

    • Avoiding socialising, especially when eating is involved
    • Increasing isolation and loss of friends
    • Frequent self weighing
    • Excessive or extreme exercise
    • Secretative behaviour and covering up the truth
    • Changes in eating patterns, such as restrictive eating or reporting of food allergies or vegetarianism
    • Dieting to lose weight
    • Trips to the bathroom after meals
    • Body image disturbance

    Psychological Signs

    • Refusing to maintain a healthy weight, including fear of weight gain
    • Obsessive thoughts about food
    • Feeling “fat” despite being a normal weight
    • Perfectionism and self criticism
    • Life centres around food and need for control
    • Depression, anxiety and moodiness
    • Self harm, suicide ideation and suicide attempts

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