Often, a mother or father is the first to suspect something is wrong, and suspect an eating problem. It can also happen that the first suspicion of an eating disorder comes from a physician or coach or friend. If an eating disorder is suspected, it is important to know that eating disorders are not something a person chooses to do, nor is it a sign of poor parenting.
Unfortunately, there are no blood tests or simple diagnostic tools to identify an eating disorder. Further complicating the matter, the symptoms and signs of an eating disorder are rarely clear-cut at early stages, and differ between children and adults, men and women, and each person's course of illness will be unique. Generally, eating disorders are divided into three categories: restrictive eating (anorexic) and binging/purging (bulimic) and binging only (Binge Eating Disorder).
For an simplified online screening tool: PsychCentral Eating Attitudes Screening
The two most common diagnostic classification systems for eating disorders are:
It is important to know that most eating disorder patients do not meet strict diagnosis guidelines. Most patients are classified under DSM IV as "Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified." This does not mean the illness is not as serious, only that the symptoms do not fit neatly into the categories. EDNOS is just as dangerous as a diagnosis of anorexia or bulimia.
♦ Warning Signs Parents Might Observe
If you have concerns, follow your instincts and get the advice of an eating disorders specialist
- not a general practitioner (who may not have recent training Providers in eating disorders). Eating disorder specialists should be recently trained and engaged in ongoing education in the field. Most specialists are active members of the Academy for Eating Disorders
, and/or the International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals
. IAEDP also offers certification for clinicians: Certified Eating Disorders Specialist (CEDS) in mental health or a Certified Eating Disorders Specialist in Nutrition (CEDSN).
In this rapidly changing field, with many recent discoveries and advances, patients deserve modern evidence-based
Other illnesses and conditions that may complicate or trigger an eating disorder:
Body Dysmorphia Disorder
: brain condition that alters perception of appearance.
: pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcal infections.
Obsessive Compulsive disorders
Vitamin D deficiency