"Hills" star Stephanie Pratt surprised many of her fans this week when she decided to open up about her struggle with bulimia. It was a revelation that couldn't have been known to anyone watching the show. And, in the wake of the news, it seems like a fitting time to openly discuss the disease and help young people who may also be struggling with an eating disorder like bulimia. Below, psychologist Danielle Shelov, who helps treat eating disorders at New York's Columbus Park Collaborative, offers her guidance.
So, if you suspect that a friend may have an eating disorder, here are five behavioral warning signs:
1) If you notice a friend is depressed or if they're more irritable than they normally are or if they're isolating from a group of friends or you in particular.
2) A preoccupation with their appearance in a way that they're normally not, so really fixated with their body, not in your normal, generic way but in a way that seems really hyper intense.
3) Social withdrawal, really isolating from all different kinds of activities, really finding them missing from your life in a way that they weren't before.
4) Preoccupation with exercise in a way that makes them much more isolated when it's that activity that they do in favor of all others.
5) Preoccupation with food. That means really doing lots of things involving food, maybe baking or cooking and maybe not really eating.
She added that if you think a friend is suffering from an eating disorder, then you need to make sure they get the appropriate help. "They need to find someone who has experience dealing with these issues because they are complex and they are unique. It's important you find people who are skilled in this."