I think I might have an eating disorder. How do I know if I need help?

If you think you might have an eating disorder—whether you aren’t eating enough or you’re binging and purging or something else—it’s important to get professional advice as soon as possible. A therapist can help you determine whether you need treatment. If you do, it’s important to get help right away, since it can seriously impact your physical health, mental fitness, and relationships.

HPRC offers resources if you’re concerned about your food intake, weight, and body image. Eating disorders are serious, and not eating healthy, consistent amounts of food means that your body isn’t optimally fueled. Even if you aren’t diagnosed with an eating disorder, you might have what’s called “disordered eating.”

Service Members must meet certain physical requirements and often set even higher expectations for themselves, which also can contribute to an eating disorder. Female Service Members are affected more than males and can be at risk for Female Athlete Triad if they don’t eat enough calories and their training is too intense.

Psychotherapy is often the most successful approach, but treatment is complex and draws on expertise from dietitians and other medical specialists. To learn more about eating disorders, read HPRC’s “Eating Disorders: Know the symptoms and risks.

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Antczak, A. J., & Brininger, T. L. (2008). Diagnosed eating disorders in the U.S. military: A nine year review∗. Eating Disorders, 16(5), 363–377. doi:10.1080/10640260802370523

Ozier, A. D., & Henry, B. W. (2011). Position of the American Dietetic Association: Nutrition intervention in the treatment of eating disorders. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 111(8), 1236–1241. doi:10.1016/j.jada.2011.06.016

National Institute of Mental Health. (2014). Eating disorders: About more than food.  NIH Publication No. (TR 14-4901). Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/eating-disorders/index.shtml