Relapse Prevention: Know the Warning Signs and Symptoms relapse prevention

Relapse Prevention: Know the Warning Signs and Symptoms


Center for Change

Recovering from something means regaining what was lost, and it is a broad goal with many component parts. It’s normal for progress to be uneven, with success in one area outpacing gains in another. Relapse risk is also personal, with people each having their own areas of strength and weakness.

The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) notes that recovery is physical, behavioral and psychological. Physical restoration involves regaining health in areas like weight and hormone balance. Behavioral aspects include normalizing body-focused behaviors, and psychological recovery focuses on thoughts and beliefs. It also includes addressing co-occurring conditions like depression or anxiety.

Relapse symptoms can occur in any area of recovery. Thoughts and beliefs drive behaviors, which then cause physical symptoms. Sometimes psychological elements go unnoticed, and problems aren’t apparent until behaviors and their consequences are obvious, so it’s important to develop the habit of observing your own mind. Warning signs include the following:


  • Feeling overwhelmed by stressful events

  • Experiencing hopelessness, anxiety or depression

  • Perceiving a need for more control

  • Having perfectionistic thoughts

  • Seeing yourself as fat, despite what others say

  • Obsessively thinking about food or weight

  • Feeling guilty or ashamed after eating

  • Justifying deviations from your recovery plan


  • Weighing yourself often
  • Looking in the mirror frequently

  • Exercising obsessively

  • Making attempts to eat alone

  • Ignoring feelings of hunger or fullness

  • Wearing only loose-fitting clothing

  • Avoiding people who support and encourage recovery

  • Being dishonest with family, friends and practitioners


  • Bruising easily
  • Losing hair

  • Feeling cold

  • Not sleeping well

Warning signs mean that it’s time for more support. Family, friends and therapists may all be able to help in different and complementary ways. The most useful interventions will depend on circumstances, but stress is often at the root of a relapse, so learning new coping skills or practicing those you’ve already learned is always wise.

NEDA recommends asking yourself the following five questions to help you set and maintain your recovery goals.

  1. How can I keep going even when I feel uncomfortable?

  2. How can I allow others to support me?

  3. What is one mini-goal I can set today?

  4. How will life be better when I am "normal”?

  5. What qualities make me a unique and special person?

That final question is particularly significant because an eating disorder can begin to feel like your identity. An important goal is to find your authentic self and build on your strengths and what brings you joy. Recovery can include not only regaining what was lost but also growing into far more than you ever imagined.

Center for Change - Angie Viets

Center for Change. Center for Change was founded on October 28, 1994, by a team of psychologists and a physician with a long history together. On that day, Center for Change began to live out its mission to heal women from the inside out. From those first days, Center for Change began to design the current facility and develop its core treatment programs. A handpicked team of experts forms the backbone of what we do, and they are committed to helping each girl or woman get back their life and restore a sense of freedom that may have been absent for far too long.

The Center is licensed with the State of Utah as a Specialty Psychiatric Hospital, and in April 1998, Center for Change received accreditation from The Joint Commission. This accreditation is limited to top organizations delivering high levels of patient service, reducing patient risk and creating an environment for continuous improvement. The Joint Commission has recognized Center for Change for its high standards of patient care and commitment to ongoing education.

The message of “hope is real” can be found woven through the entirety of the treatment experience at Center for Change. From those early days, our primary goal hasn’t changed: to improve lives. And research proves we’re doing just that. A Center for Change study showed that patients were able to significantly decrease negative behaviors and improve body image and health-management skills.

We understand the dilemma in trying to find the best care available for you or your loved one. So many options can make it difficult to decide which one is right for your situation. At Center for Change, our holistic approach, rigorous medical and clinical program, wide range of levels of care and nurturing environment set us apart. Our extensive team includes seasoned medical, psychological and nutritional experts who have been carefully selected because of their expertise in treating both the outward symptoms and underlying causes of eating disorders. Call us and get your life back.