Signs & Symptoms
Worried that you or a loved one may need help with an eating disorder or substance use disorder? These signs and symptoms may help guide you or your loved one toward a path of healing.
Binge Eating Disorder
Binge eating large quantities of food
Feeling loss of control around food at times
Constant grazing of food throughout day
Secretively eating, hiding wrappers, lying about food intake or food spending
Obsessively thinking about food and the desire to lose weight
Inability to remain on a healthy meal plan without binge episodes
Marked distress after a binge episode, feeling guilty, embarrassed, ashamed
Marked decrease in self-esteem or self-confidence
Increased feelings of hopelessness or despair
Uncontrolled weight gain over time
Co-occurring medical symptoms related to excess weight, such as hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, sleep apnea, etc.
Co-occurring medical symptoms related to limited exercise, such as chronic pain, limited mobility, depressed mood, etc.
Episodes of binge eating large quantities of food followed by purging
Purging may be by vomiting, use and abuse of laxatives, diuretics or excessive exercise
The binge-purge cycle is most often a secretive event
Increasing isolation for purpose of binging and purging
Obsessive thoughts of food, calories, weight, binging and purging
Often periods of restricting food accompany the plan to binge and purge
Decrease in the enjoyment of activities and engagement with others
Increase in mood swings
Decreased self esteem and self confidence
Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness
Feelings of being alone with an out-of-control secret problem
Intense fears of becoming overweight
Body distortion or seeing oneself as overweight
Denial that there is a problem
Habit of chewing food and spitting it out without swallowing food
Hiding jars or bags of vomit or spit out food
Medical symptoms related to bulimia may include hair loss, loss of menses if underweight (for women), stomach and digestive problems, dental problems, electrolyte imbalances, physical dependency on laxatives, possible irreversible damage to intestines, internal bleeding from purging, heart complications, other serious complications resulting in illness and death
Denial that there is any problem
Dramatic weight loss in short period of time
Exaggerated and intense fears of becoming overweight
Preoccupation with calories, food and weight
Restricting food for prolonged periods
Inability to stop dieting even when below normal weight
Distorted body image or seeing oneself as overweight
Constant weighing of ones self throughout the day
Increased isolation from family or friends
Isolating behavior concerning food and exercise – may stop eating in front of others and may exercise in secret
Increased prolonged periods of exercise for purpose of burning calories
Increased dishonesty with self and others over eating and exercise habits
Frequent arguments with others regarding eating habits
Increased mood swings
Decrease in self esteem and confidence levels
Medical symptoms related to anorexia may include loss of hair from head, increased body hair as thermal insulator for body’s decreasing ability to stay warm, loss of the ability to enjoy friends or activities, strong feelings of being in control of oneself, chronically chilly or cold, loss of menses (for women), drop in blood pressure, dizziness and weakness from malnutrition, heart complications, vitamin and mineral deficiencies
If left untreated, anorexia can cause premature death from starvation
Chemical Dependence/Substance Use Disorder
You need to use more of the drug to experience the same effects you used to attain with smaller amounts.
If you go too long without drugs, you experience symptoms such as nausea, restlessness, insomnia, depression, sweating, shaking, and anxiety.
You often do drugs or use more than you planned, even though you told yourself you wouldn’t. You may want to stop using, but you feel powerless.
You spend a lot of time using and thinking about drugs, figuring out how to get them, and recovering from the drug’s effects.
You have abandoned activities you used to enjoy such as hobbies, sports, and socializing, because of your drug use.
You continue to use despite knowing its hurting you. It’s causing major problems in your life—blackouts, infections, mood swings, depression, paranoia—but you use anyway.
Unexplained change in personality or attitude
Sudden mood swings, irritability, or angry outbursts
Periods of unusual hyperactivity, agitation, or giddiness
Lack of motivation; appears lethargic or “spaced out”
Appears fearful, anxious, or paranoid, with no reason
Drop in attendance and performance at work or school
Unexplained need for money or financial problems. May borrow or steal to get it.
Engaging in secretive or suspicious behaviors
Sudden change in friends, favorite hangouts, and hobbies
Frequently getting into trouble (fights, accidents, illegal activities)
Physical Warning Signs:
Bloodshot eyes, pupils larger or smaller than usual
Changes in appetite or sleep patterns. Sudden weight loss or weight gain
Deterioration of physical appearance, personal grooming habits
Unusual smells on breath, body, or clothing
Tremors, slurred speech, or impaired coordination