Eating Disorder Hotlines
According to Eating Disorder Hope, around 10 million women and 1 million men in the United States find eating disorders to be a daily struggle. And at any given moment, the American Psychiatric Association says that several million individuals are affected by disordered eating; the most common demographic that experiences an eating disorder is girls and women between the ages of 12 and 35. The three chief types of eating disorders are bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, and binge eating disorder. These illnesses frequently develop alongside other psychiatric disorders such as substance abuse, obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety, and many others.
Potential Signs of an Eating Disorder
The National Eating Disorders Association lists potential signs of an eating disorder one should look out for. Physical manifestations of an eating disorder could include:
- Constantly feeling cold
- Issues with one’s sleep
- Noticeable fluctuations (both up and down) of weight
- Stomach cramps and other non-specific gastrointestinal issues such as constipation and acid reflux
- Difficulties concentrating
- Dizziness, particularly when one stands up
- Menstrual irregularities, such as missed periods or only experiencing a period when on hormonal contraceptives
- Abnormal laboratory results such as low hormone levels, anemia, low white and red blood cell counts, and low potassium
- Cuts and/or calluses across the top of finger joints, which could suggest inducing vomiting
- Dry hair and skin
- Brittle nails
- Fine hair on one’s body
- Muscle weakness
- Swelling around the salivary glands
- Discoloration of teeth and cavities, which may result from vomiting
- Impaired immunity
- Yellow skin (could be in the context of eating large amounts of carrots)
- Cold, mottled hands
- Swelling of feet
- Poor wound healing
And behavioral and emotional signs may involve:
- A preoccupation with calories, food, weight, fat grams, carbohydrates, and dieting
- Behaviors and attitudes that point towards dieting, weight loss, and control of food becoming major concerns for an individual
- Recurrent dieting
- Extreme mood swings
- Great concern with one’s body shape and size
- Withdrawal from usual activities
- Withdrawal from friends
- Appearing uncomfortable eating around other people
- The refusal to eat specific foods, which can progress to restrictions against entire food groups (i.e. no carbohydrates)
- Skipping meals
- Food rituals (only eating a particular food group or food)
- Excessive chewing
- Not allowing certain foods to touch
- Taking small portions of food at regular meals
- Frequent checks in the mirror for supposed flaws in their appearance
Treating Eating Disorders
Treatment for an eating disorder depends on what iteration an individual has. However, while it is important to address the physical aspects of disordered eating, the American Psychiatric Association highlights that it is important to also address the underlying psychological issues causing them.
Eating Disorder Hotlines: Who to Call
The following are a List of Eating Disorder Hotlines from Bulimia.com:
National Eating Disorders Association Helpline: 1-800-931-2237
If you or a loved one is suffering from an eating disorder, there are a breadth of hotlines that you may contact, such as the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA). The NEDA has various options, including online chatting, calling, or even texting. Their hours and contact information are listed at this page. If you are unable to reach someone immediately, you can always leave a message or text “NEDA” to 741741, which will connect you to an individual at a Crisis Text Line.
Hopeline Network: 1-800-442-4673
This is a hotline dedicated to serving anyone in crisis. Sometimes, people with eating disorders might feel so full of shame or self-hatred that they contemplate hurting themselves. If this is true for you, this hotline offers nationwide assistance and support from volunteers specifically trained in crisis intervention. You can talk to someone day or night about anything that’s troubling you, even if it’s not related to an eating disorder. You can also call if you need referrals to eating disorder treatment centers.
Currently serving people in the United States, the hotline operates Monday–Friday from 9 a.m.–5 p.m. CST, with plans for a 24/7 hotline coming soon. Trained hotline volunteers offer encouragement to those having problems around eating or binging, support for those who “need help getting through a meal,” and assistance to family members who have concerns that their loved one might have an eating disorder.
Multi-Service Eating Disorders Association : 1-617-558-1881
This organization offers education, information, referrals to clinicians who specialize in eating disorders, support groups, and additional services for people with eating disorders in the New England area. It also offers information about nationwide treatment centers and is available between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. EST, Monday–Friday.
The United Way’s 211.org: Call 2-1-1
The hotline is intended for anyone living in North America who has any type of crisis or who needs help locating specific resources, including information and referrals for eating disorder treatment. Available 24/7, it can offer information and referrals to treatment organizations in your area.
Crisis Text Line: Text CONNECT to 741741
Available 24/7, 365 days a year, this organization helps people with eating disorders and other mental health issues by connecting callers with trained crisis volunteers who will provide confidential advice, support, and referrals if needed.
If you or a loved one is experiencing a medical emergency, such as suspected organ failure, a loss of consciousness, severe dehydration, or esophageal rupture, you should contact 911 as soon as possible in order to get the necessary aid.