Eating disorders are more common than many people may realize. Experts suggest that one of the reasons that most people are unaware of the prevalence of eating disorders is the fact that most people suffer in silence. Often, people who struggle with some type of eating disorder will be in a state of denial. When a person is in denial, it often takes some form of intervention by a family member or friend in order to spark a breakthrough. The first step in the process of initiating an intervention is having the ability to identify the most prevailing signs and symptoms of eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating.
Signs and Symptoms of Eating Disorders
When an individual is able to recognize certain behavior that is indicative of the existence of some form of eating disorder, they will be able to take the necessary steps to confront their loved one with the intent of helping them successfully overcome their condition.
Anorexia nervosa is characterized by excessive, unhealthy weight loss. A person suffering from anorexia will also have an irrational fear of gaining weight. It is not uncommon, in extreme cases, for the person to be at risk of starvation. People with anorexia have a distorted perception of their body — no matter how much weight they lose, they will still believe that they are overweight.
People who are struggling with bulimia tend to suffer from episodes of eating large amounts of food at one time. These eating episodes are normally followed by purging through such acts as vomiting or the use of laxatives to counteract the high caloric intake. Unlike an individual who is suffering from anorexia, most people who suffer with bulimia will have a normal body weight; however, they will have that same fear of gaining weight, and they will also have a distorted image of their body.
Understanding How to Approach a Loved One Who is Struggling with an Eating Disorder
Approaching someone who has an eating disorder can be difficult. Because this type of individual is hypersensitive, attempting to speak with them without a specific plan of engagement can easily backfire. When approaching a friend or loved one about an eating disorder, it is immensely vital to express concerns in a caring and non-confrontational manner. For the person who is attempting the intervention, it will be important to pick a time and a place in which the conversation will take place in private. It will be important to be clear on what is communicated, ensuring the person that the encounter is about making sure that they are okay.
Because denial is common with people who are battling eating disorders, the person conducting the intervention cannot become frustrated when a person denies that they have a problem. It is likely that the person who is struggling with the eating disorder will take some time before they are ready to open up and talk about their condition, in the meantime loved ones should provide support, while making themselves available.