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Recovery from an eating disorder begins the moment you recognize it

Eating disorders are diagnosed using criteria set forth by the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual.

Medically and psychologically serious, eating disorders have life-threatening risk for both females and males. In fact, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness.

Risk factors for developing an eating disorder include low self-esteem, difficulty expressing negative emotions, difficulty resolving conflict, perfectionism, depression and anxiety, having experienced trauma, and family genetic history. Individuals with eating disorders have very high rates of co-occurring psychiatric conditions.

Is there an eating disorder in your family?

Signs and symptoms of an eating disorder are often easy to see but hard to admit. Once you understand what is going on – and take steps to intervene and seek treatment – you’re taking steps toward better health for everyone in your family.

1. Your child is obsessed with body image.
Self worth is entangled with negative feelings and distortions about physical appearance.

2. Your child exercises compulsively or excessively.
Compulsive exercising can compensate for eating or weight gain.

3. Your child is unhappy.
People struggling with an eating disorder often think, “If I was thinner, I’ll be accepted.”

4. Your child is stressed at the holidays.
Food is a family focus, causing a person with an eating disorder to feel out of place and isolated.

5. Your child avoids family meals or is a picky eater.
Someone with an eating disorder fears a loss of control at the family dining table.

6. Your child sneaks food, or abuses laxatives or diet pills.
Hoarding and bingeing on food is a common symptom – so is abuse of laxatives and diet pills.