Signs Your Loved One Might Be Struggling With an Eating Disorder

The idea that someone close to us might be struggling with an eating disorder can be challenging. What do you do when your loved one says you are bulimic or anorexic? How can you help them even if they won’t believe there is a problem? We’ve put together five signs of a possible eating disorder and how to act on your suspicions.

Weight Loss

The old saying goes, “You can’t be too rich or too thin”? In the case of an eating disorder, it’s true. It is one of the easiest things to spot as they are always on a diet. They might not be able to admit that they are doing it to lose weight or because they feel fat, but you start to see them progressively becoming thinner and thinner. If you suspect an eating disorder, that weight loss could be as much as five percent of your body weight in a month, which is why you want to get help immediately.

Mood Swings

The whole eating disorder is a coping mechanism, possibly because they feel out of control. They might love food too much and want to eat less, but not be able to control their feelings around food. Look out for any drastic changes in personality or mood swings in your loved one who may be struggling with an eating disorder. It will usually lead to moodiness and sudden anger, which can be attributed to the emotional battle your loved one fights.


Depression is a huge factor in eating disorders, and it might take the form of self-loathing, insecurity, and despair. If your loved one is showing signs of depression, this could indicate that they are struggling with an eating disorder. Loved ones can’t help but notice changes in other people, especially if it’s someone you are close to. Look out for mood swings that seem to occur for no reason, and the person appears withdrawn from everyone around them. This is extremely common with eating disorders as they cause depression on top or alongside the physical side of the disorder.

Shallow Breathing

There is an increased risk of your loved one struggling with an eating disorder if they show signs of shallow breathing. It could be your loved one struggling to eat or the idea that they can’t eat without feeling bigger. If you think your loved one might have an eating disorder, watch out for signs of shallow breathing. This can signify that their anxiety levels are getting to them, and they feel like they can’t get enough air into their lungs from the food in their stomach. The good news is it’s treatable but will need proper treatment; otherwise, it could lead to more complications and eventually death. If your loved one’s eating disorder is getting to the point of impacting their health, get them enrolled in an eating disorder treatment facility as soon as possible. 

Decreased Sleep

This one is probably the hardest to notice, but your loved one should get plenty of sleep every night. If they are not getting as much sleep and feeling less energetic, then there is probably an underlying issue of disordered eating or alcohol abuse. When someone doesn’t get enough sleep, it can cause them to become irritable and depressed or even violent because their body and mind aren’t working correctly. There is a link between these two issues, which can be hard to spot, but if you are concerned about this, you should sit down with your loved one and discuss any problems they may have.

Eating disorders are mental illnesses; like all, they can be treated. If you think your loved one might be struggling with an eating disorder, you want to get them help as soon as possible. There are many treatment methods for eating disorders, and all are curable.

About the author:

Emma is a freelance writer based out of Boston, MA. She writes most often on health and education. When not writing, she enjoys reading and watching film noir. Say hi on Twitter @EmmaSturgis2

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