Can Taking An Eating Disorder Quiz Help You Determine If You Truly Have An Eating Disorder?
Updated August 28, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Aaron Horn
Body image and eating behaviors are two things that occupy the minds of many young people. Our society is obsessed with appearance, and there are many false ideas about what it means to be healthy. It's easy to see why struggling in these areas is common for people of all ages. Disordered eating behaviors are normalized and even praised in our society. Due to the glamorization of diet culture, it can be hard to determine if you might have an eating disorder.
Contrary to popular belief, eating disorders can affect people of all ages, races, genders, and abilities. People struggle with these conditions in different areas of the world. Eating disorders run far deeper than what we can attribute to society or the media. How can you tell if you have an eating disorder? Is an online eating disorder quiz a good place to start?
What Is An Eating Disorder?
Multiple conditions can be classified under the category of eating disorders. Binge eating disorder (BED), for example, is a condition where an individual eats large amounts of food at one time, and they feel that their behavior is out of control. With this disorder, the person does not purge afterward, as is the case with something like bulimia. It's not as straightforward as "eating too much" or overeating; it's far more complex than that. A person with BED usually feels ashamed, guilty, or very distressed after a binge. The sorts of binges in which a person engages during their episodes are characterized by eating more rapidly than someone ordinarily would, eating large amounts of food when not hungry, and eating alone to avoid others observing their behavior. BED is simply one eating disorder to be aware of. Another common eating disorder diagnosis is bulimia.
Bulimia Nervosa is another condition where a person binges, but unlike those with BED, a person with bulimia uses a compensatory behavior following that binge. This usually takes the form of self-induced vomiting. Other purging behaviors include fasting, taking laxatives, or exercise excessively. Much like those with BED, people with bulimia will often use binging and purging behaviors in secret. They may feel ashamed or out of control during these episodes, making it hard to speak out. According to the DSM-5, these episodes have to occur for three months at least once a week for bulimia to be diagnosed.
Anorexia Nervosa is another eating disorder that you're likely to have heard about. Like with every other eating disorder, anorexia is a complex condition with a variety of potential contributing factors but no known single cause. Anorexia is categorized primarily by self-starvation. A person who has anorexia is fixated on losing weight or the fear of gaining weight. This fear is all-consuming and may be paired with body dysmorphia. In addition to self-starvation, people with anorexia may engage in a variety of other behaviors such as excessive exercise and the use of diuretics.
Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorders or OSFED is an umbrella term used for feeding or eating disorders that don't meet the criteria for other diagnoses. OSFED is extremely deadly and is no less severe than other eating disorders. OSFED is used to describe those with conditions such as atypical anorexia nervosa or purging disorder. This diagnosis will also be given to someone who has experienced the symptoms of BED or bulimia for less than three months.
Warning Signs Of Eating Disorders
Eating disorders are extremely serious and can be life-threatening if they are not treated. It's important to know what to look out for if you think that you or someone that you know may be struggling with an eating disorder.
What Are Some Of The Warning Signs Of Binge Eating Disorder?
If you're not sure about whether someone you know has Binge Eating Disorder, then you should pay attention to some of these warning signs. If you are engaging in some of these behaviors yourself, then you should also be aware that you might be getting into potentially harmful territory. Extreme concern with body shape and weight is one sign. Frequent diets and withdrawing from friends or social situations can be another. You might also see a reluctance to eat in front of other people.
Also, the stealing or hoarding of food in strange places might occur. You might see someone cutting out entire food groups, like no dairy, no carbs, or no sugars. Fluctuations in weight or feelings of low self-esteem might also be happening. Those with Binge Eating Disorder may also have frequent stomach cramps and other gastrointestinal issues. They might have difficulty concentrating on things that previously could hold their attention.
What Are The Signs Of Anorexia Nervosa?
When someone has anorexia, their mind is consumed by their illness. As a result of this, they may isolate themselves socially, act in a way that is "not like themselves," or they may become highly secretive. That said, many sufferers are good at hiding their condition and will make excuses or try to cover up their behavior. You might see significant weight loss, and a sufferer may become noticeably underweight. Some of the other common symptoms of anorexia are brittle hair or nails, dry skin, complaints of frequent headaches, dizziness or fainting, and abnormal blood work.
What Are The Signs Of Bulimia Nervosa?
Episodes of binging and purging categorize bulimia. Typically, someone who struggles with bulimia will try to conceal their behavior from those around them and will go to great lengths to do so. After eating a large amount of food, a sufferer will often vomit afterward, so if someone excuses themselves to use the bathroom after every meal, that's a potential warning sign. They might also misuse diuretics, laxatives, or exercise to purge. People with bulimia might become depressed or irritable. You might notice broken blood capillaries under their eyes from the force of the vomiting, GI issues, secretive behavior, isolation, facial swelling, a sore throat, abnormal blood work, or electrolyte imbalances.
The Health Consequences Of Eating Disorders
Eating disorders are destructive, painful illnesses to live with. Suffers often feel helpless, but recovery is possible. The longer you let an eating disorder control your life, the more negative health side effects you will see.
In the case of BED (Binge Eating Disorder), weight cycling or yo-yo dieting can take place, which puts a strain on your heart. If you do not consume enough calories regularly, it is very tough on your cardiovascular system. That is because the body is breaking down its tissues to use as fuel. Your pulse and blood pressure can drop as the heart has less fuel than it needs to pump blood throughout your body. This is why it's important to note that periods of restriction or dieting after an episode of binging are not the answer.
Even though the brain is only about three pounds in weight, it needs approximately one-fifth of the calories that you ingest to function as it should. When you are starving yourself in between binge sessions, the brain does not get the energy that it needs. You will not be able to concentrate, and you can start to obsess about food out of an instinct for self-preservation.
Your gastrointestinal system will likely suffer from BED. This condition can cause blood sugar to fluctuate, which can make you feel faint or keel over. Binge eating can even cause the stomach to rupture in severe cases. That creates a life-threatening emergency.
In the case of bulimia, a person might develop cardiac complications such as an irregular heartbeat. They might even have heart failure stemming from an electrolyte imbalance, which is why it's important to seek treatment as soon as you can if you have bulimia. Someone with bulimia may become dangerously dehydrated. They will also lose sodium, potassium, and chloride from the body, all of which are essential to basic functions. As with BED, there is a possibility of stomach rupture in those with bulimia.
Anorexia also comes with a very high risk of heart problems and heart failure. A sufferer's bones may become brittle, and they might develop osteoporosis or osteopenia. They may experience fainting from low blood sugar or other complications. They might have muscle weakness or muscle loss, and their kidneys can fail because of dehydration. Sufferers who have periods may experience loss of their menstrual cycle or abnormalities in their menstrual cycle.
Eating Disorder Tests
If you search the internet, you may find tests that claim to be able to help you determine if you might have the symptoms of an eating disorder. For instance, you can take a test for BED at psycom.net. When you take an eating disorder test like this one, you'll answer each question on a scale from "Not at All" to "All the Time." The queries are things like "Have you had the desire for a flat stomach?" and "Have you felt fat?" At the end of the quiz, they'll give you their opinion on whether or not there's a possibility that you have an eating disorder. There are several other similar quizzes online, but the format and the desired results are similar to this one. One of the most reputable online quizzes for eating disorders can be found on the National Eating Disorder Association website.
How Effective Are Online Tests?
The effectiveness of these eating disorder quizzes is hard to gauge. After all, these are tests and quizzes that you take online, and no online test is a substitute for seeing a professional. Some of the questions can be a bit vague, and since no two people with an eating disorder are alike (nor do you have to fit every single symptom to receive an eating disorder diagnosis), an online test can't truly tell you if you have an eating disorder.
If you're searching for an eating disorder test online, it probably means that you're wondering if you could have an eating disorder. Especially considering the health risks that are affiliated with eating disorders, it's integral that you seek help if you're struggling with your relationship with food. Early detection can help you avoid some of the long-term effects of eating disorders, but it's never too late to get help and start recovery. There are some cases where an online quiz might completely miss the symptoms of an individual's eating disorder, so it's important that you talk to a professional rather than going off of what an online quiz is telling you.
Seek Out A Therapist Who Specializes In Different Eating Disorders
If you're experiencing symptoms of an eating disorder, it's crucial to talk to your doctor. Ask if they have a recommendation for a therapist who deals specializes in eating disorders treatment. Make a preliminary appointment with that provider, and they can give you a more accurate diagnosis than any quiz you take.
Some therapists treat patients who have several different types of eating disorders. They can provide an accurate diagnosis depending on your symptoms. Be truthful when you are reporting your symptoms. Through full disclosure helps get you the best care possible. It's not easy to talk about eating disorder symptoms, but once you do, you are starting on the road to recovery.
Telling Your Family What Is Happening With You
You might have an urge to hide what is happening from your family or loved ones. You may have intense feelings of shame or guilt about struggling with an eating disorder. Naturally, you would prefer that they didn't know about it. The most important thing is to seek help. Whether or not your family knows about your initial therapy appointment isn't the isn't a priority. It's your choice to tell them you're seeking treatment.
However, the research indicates that when family members are involved in the eating disorder recovery process, there is a higher level of success. Your family can be part of the support network that you need so that you can get well and have a healthy relationship with food again. If they are educated on the topic, they shouldn't judge you for what you are going through. If your relationships with some of your family members are one of the triggers for your use of unhealthy behaviors, then getting them to come to some of your therapy sessions might have to happen at some point. That might be a frightening or worrying thought for you, but you can trust your therapist to be the voice of reason. They can reinforce to your family members that your feelings are valid, and that might be what it takes for them to alter their behaviors even as you work to change yours.
Getting To A More Comfortable Point In Your Life
Living with an eating disorder is extremely difficult. It's dangerous, it's uncomfortable, and it will never allow you to live your life to the fullest. There's a saying that goes, "the worst day in recovery is better than your best day with an eating disorder," and it's true. With the help of a treatment team, you can get to a place in life where you're truly comfortable and no longer hear the voice of your eating disorder in your head. First, the voice will become softer, and eventually, it may even go away entirely. Some people with eating disorders will utilize outpatient treatment, whereas some may require inpatient or residential treatment. If you're in immediate medical danger, it's important to go to the nearest emergency room or call 911.
Talk To Someone About Your Condition To Get The Healing Process Started
If you need to speak to someone impartial and sympathetic about what you're going through, you can contact one of our qualified mental health professionals. Start gaining confidence in your ability to get well and break the cycle of negative behavior affiliated with your eating disorder. Even if they're not the final word on whether you have a disorder or not, an eating disorder quiz such as the NEDA screening tool could be the push that tells you that you need to seek help. If you believe that you might have an eating disorder or disordered eating, you don't have to struggle in silence anymore. Reach out to a licensed counselor or therapist at BetterHelp today so that you can express your concerns and talk about taking the next step to recovery.