How Is Anorexia Diagnosed
A healthcare provider can diagnose a person with anorexia based on the criteria for anorexia nervosa listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association. The three criteria for anorexia nervosa under the DSM-5 include:
- Restriction of calorie consumption leading to weight loss or a failure to gain weight resulting in a significantly low body weight based on that persons age, sex, height and stage of growth.
- Intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat.
- Having a distorted view of themselves and their condition. In other words, the individual is unable to realistically assess their body weight and shape believes their appearance has a strong influence on their self-worth and denies the medical seriousness of their current low body weight and/or food restriction.
Even if all of the DSM-5 criteria for anorexia arent met, a person can still have a serious eating disorder. DSM-5 criteria classifies the severity of anorexia according to body mass index . Individuals who meet the criteria for anorexia but who arent underweight despite significant weight loss have whats known as atypical anorexia.
Diagnostic guidelines in the DSM-5 also allow healthcare providers to determine if a person is in partial remission or full remission as well as to specify the current severity of the condition based on body mass index .
The Three Major Kinds Of Eating Disorders
National Eating Disorder Awareness Week in 2018 is February 26 March 4. During these seven days, the National Eating Disorders Association extends itself to educate Americans about eating disorders. Its ironic that we are part of a society where thinness is prized but many Americans are overweight. Many people try to lose weight by going from one diet to another. However, young people with eating disorders have taken such concerns to an extreme level and are undermining their health and even putting their lives at risk. If you are the parent of a high schooler that you suspect has an eating disorder, it helps to be aware of the different types of disorders.
The Three Most Common Eating Disorders And How Theyre Diagnosed
Eating disorders represent the extremes in thought and behavior patterns surrounding eating. They can lead to serious medical problems, and they can be fatal. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, up to 20 percent of people who dont seek treatment for an eating disorder will die.
If youre worried that you or someone you love might have an eating disorder, you may be wondering what your next steps should be. You probably have a lot of questions and just as many worries, but its hard to know where to begin. This primer will help you better understand the most common eating disorders, what causes them, how theyre treated, and what you can do to promote long-term recovery.
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What Is Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder
Avoidant restrictive food intake disorder , previously known as selective eating disorder, is a condition where people limit the amount or type of food eaten. Unlike anorexia nervosa, people with ARFID do not have a distorted body image or extreme fear of gaining weight. ARFID is most common in middle childhood and usually has an earlier onset than other eating disorders. Many children go through phases of picky eating, but a child with ARFID does not eat enough calories to grow and develop properly, and an adult with ARFID does not eat enough calories to maintain basic body function.
Symptoms of ARFID include:
- Dramatic restriction of types or amount of food eaten
- Lack of appetite or interest in food
- Dramatic weight loss
- Upset stomach, abdominal pain, or other gastrointestinal issues with no other known cause
- Limited range of preferred foods that becomes even more limited
What Are The Complications Of Anorexia
The medical complications and health risks of malnutrition and starvation, which are common in people who have anorexia, can affect nearly every organ in your body. In severe cases, vital organs such as your brain, heart and kidneys can sustain damage. This damage may be irreversible even after a person has recovered from anorexia.
Severe medical complications that can happen from untreated anorexia include:
In addition to physical complications, people with anorexia also commonly have other mental health conditions, including:
- Depression, anxiety and other mood disorders.
- Personality disorders.
- Alcohol use disorder and substance misuse.
If these mental health conditions are left untreated, they could lead to self-injury, suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts.
If youre having suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Someone will be available to talk with you 24/7.
More Information About Eating Disorders
eMentalHealth.caInformation and resource links on eating disorders in children, youth and adults includes a brief screening tool, helpful information and ideas for parents, and help finding services in your area.
Kids Help PhoneYouth friendly information, links and tips on what to do to help yourself or a friend.
Kelty Eating Disorders Information from the Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre, affiliated with the BC Centres for Excellence in Eating Disorders. The website includes personal stories, facts about eating disorders, treatments, healthy living and recovery.
NEDA National Eating Disorders Association The website offers a variety of resources, including a very thorough Parent Toolkit . While some of the information is specific to the US, most of it would be helpful to parents anywhere, including understanding the disorder and details of treatment approaches and regimens.
Body Mass Index And Diagnosis
In your assessment, your BMI should not be the only factor your GP or hospital doctor takes into account.
Unfortunately, diagnosis and treatment for an eating disorder can be related to your weight. You could have a serious problem with eating, but without meeting the criteria for diagnosis. This can feel very frustrating.
However, you should not need an eating disorder diagnosis to get treatment for an eating problem.
Usually, your recommended treatment will be for the disorder most similar to your eating problem.
See our page on treatment and support for more details.
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How Do I Take Care Of Myself If I Have Anorexia
It can be uncomfortable and scary, but its important to tell a loved one and/or your healthcare provider if you have anorexia.
If you have already been diagnosed with anorexia, there are some things you can do to manage your condition and stay committed to recovery, including:
- Get enough sleep.
- Dont abuse alcohol or drugs.
- If you take prescribed medication, be sure to take it regularly and do not miss doses.
- If you are participating in talk therapy to treat your anorexia, be sure to see your therapist regularly.
- Reach out to family and friends for support.
- Consider joining a support group for people who have anorexia.
- See your healthcare provider regularly.
What Is The Outlook For People With Anorexia
The prognosis for anorexia varies depending on certain factors, including:
- How long the person has had anorexia.
- The severity of the condition.
- The type of treatment and adherence to treatment.
Anorexia, like other eating disorders, gets worse the longer its left untreated. The sooner the disorder is diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome. However, people with anorexia often will not admit they have a problem and might resist treatment or refuse to follow the treatment plan.
Anorexia is a serious and potentially life-threatening eating disorder if its left untreated. Eating disorders, including anorexia, are among the deadliest mental health conditions, second only to opioid addiction. Individuals with anorexia are 5 times more likely to die prematurely and 18 times more likely to die by suicide.
The good news is that anorexia can be treated, and someone with anorexia can return to a healthy weight and healthy eating patterns. Unfortunately, the risk of relapse is high, so recovery from anorexia usually requires long-term treatment as well as a strong commitment by the individual. Support of family members and friends can help ensure that the person receives and adheres to their needed treatment.
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What Tests Are Used To Diagnose Or Assess Anorexia
Although there are no laboratory tests to specifically diagnose anorexia, a healthcare provider may use various diagnostic tests, such as blood tests, to rule out any medical conditions that could cause weight loss and to evaluate the physical damage weight loss and starvation may have caused.
Tests to rule out weight-loss causing illness or to assess anorexia side effects may include:
- Vitamin D levels.
- A pregnancy test in people assigned female at birth who are of childbearing age.
- Hormone tests if evidence of menstrual problems in people assigned female at birth and measuring testosterone in people assigned male at birth.
Types Of Eating Disorders: Anorexia Nervosa
First on the eating disorders list is Anorexia Nervosa. Anorexia is characterized by self-starvation and excessive weight loss.
The following are common anorexia symptoms:
- Refusal to maintain body weight at or above a minimally normal weight for height, body type, age, and activity level
- Intense fear of weight gain or being “fat”
- Feeling “fat” or overweight despite dramatic weight loss
- Loss of menstrual periods
Information on the treatment of anorexia.
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Prevalence Of Eating Disorders
Findings from the last Canadian Community Health Survey Mental Health indicate that in 2012, over 113 000 individuals ages 15 and older were living with an eating disorder diagnosed by a health professional.
Statistics Canada. . Table 13-10-0465-01 Mental health indicators. https://doi.org/10.25318/1310046501-eng
International research indicates that the point prevalence of eating disorders ranges from 2.2% to 4.6%.
Galmiche, M., Déchelotte, P., Lambert, G., & Tavolacci, M. P. . Prevalence of eating disorders over the 20002018 period: A systematic literature review. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 109, 14021413. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/nqy342
Based on prevalence data from international research, at any given time, an estimated 840,000 to 1,750,000 people in Canada have symptoms sufficient for an eating disorder diagnosis.
Should Overweight Children Be Treated
Overweight children at any age have a greater risk of becoming obese adults than normal-weight children. These children tend to have higher blood pressure and cholesterol levels than normal weight children do. High blood pressure and cholesterol are risk factors for heart disease in later life. This is why overweight children should be treated. Behavior therapy programs tailored to the childs age have both short-term and long-term success in helping children lose weight. These programs usually involve parents.
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Who Does It Affect
Eating disorders can affect anyone, but some people may be at higher risk. People who experience lower self-esteem or poor body image, perfectionism, or difficulties dealing with stress may be more likely to experience an eating disorder. A lack of positive social supports and other important connections may also play a big part. In some cases, eating disorders can go along with other mental illnesses.
Our beliefs around body image are also important. While the media may often portray thinness as an ideal body type, this alone doesnt cause an eating disorder. How we think about those messages and apply them to our lives is what affects our self-esteem and self-worth.
Causes Of Eating Disorders
While eating disorders typically appear in the teen years or young adulthood, eating disorders can develop in those younger or older than that. Eating disorders can occur in people of all genders. Eating disorders are not caused by vanity and fad diets alone. Biological, psychological, and societal influences can all contribute to an eating disorder.
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How Do You Know Its An Eating Disorder
Eating disorders are more common than you might guess. National surveys estimate that 20 million women and 10 million men in America will have an eating disorder at some point in their lives. The behaviors associated with eating disorders vary.
The three most common ones are:
- Anorexia: A condition characterized by weight loss and a distorted body image, in which the person has a fear of gaining weight. People with anorexia dramatically restrict the calories and types of foods they consume, may exercise compulsively and, in some cases, purge by vomiting or use laxatives.
- Bulimia: A cycle of binging on food and compensating with such behaviors as self-induced vomiting. When a person is having a bulimic episode, they feel unable to control the amount of food they are eating.
- Binge-eating disorder: This is similar to bulimia in that it involves episodes of uncontrolled eating, but it does not involve purging. Binge-eating disorder is the most common eating disorder and the one doctors know the least about at this point.
Some people dismiss the significance of their behaviors and may not even be fully aware that they have a problem that requires treatment, Lydecker says.
The study was based on the 2012-13 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, which included responses from people who met standard criteria for lifetime eating disorders and who answered questions regarding whether theyd sought help.
Do You Need More Help
Contact a community organization like the Canadian Mental Health Association to learn more about support and resources in your area.
Founded in 1918, the Canadian Mental Health Association is the most established, most extensive community mental health organization in Canada. Through a presence in more than 330 communities across every province and one territory, CMHA provides advocacy and resources that help to prevent mental health problems and illnesses, support recovery and resilience, and enable all Canadians to flourish and thrive.
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Other Specified Feeding Or Eating Disorder
The majority of those with eating disorders do not fall within the guidelines for anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder and are classified as OSFED. To be diagnosed as having OSFED a person must present with a feeding or eating behaviors that cause clinically significant distress and impairment in areas of functioning, but do not meet the full criteria for any of the other feeding and eating disorders.
A diagnosis might then be allocated that specifies a specific reason why the presentation does not meet the specifics of another disorder . The following are further examples for OSFED:
Medical Complications and Associated Features
Weight loss or faltering growth
Generalized emotional difficulties, sometimes referred to as food avoidance emotional disorder
Mirroring of medical complications and associated features of anorexia nervosa
How To Get Help For Teenagers With Eating Disorders
When parents notice any of the above signs in their teens, they can reach out to a treatment center by phone for help in getting an eating disorder diagnosis and treatment. During the call, the admissions specialists will assist in finding the perfect level of treatment for the teen, providing them with much-needed support and compassion. Parents will remain involved in every step of the way, which helps heal the family unit while helping teens become and remain fully recovered.
After speaking with admissions specialists, everyone can work together to find a suitable time for teens to come down and check into the treatment center. Parents are encouraged to accompany their teens and meet the treatment team, learn about the program, and provide their support. They will also have opportunities to return for family programming that brings everyone together in healing.
To get started in acquiring eating disorder treatment for their teens, parents can call the team at Clementine at 866-678-0923. Admissions specialists are always available to take the call and start the assessment process right away. Families can trust that they will receive the support they seek without judgment and with the compassion needed to make a full recovery.
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What Should I Do If I Think I Have An Eating Disorder
People with an eating disorder may feel it helps them stay in control of their life. However, as time goes on, the eating disorder can start to control them. If you have an eating disorder, you may also have the urge to harm yourself or misuse alcohol or drugs.
Talk to someone you trust such as a close friend or family member if you think you have an eating disorder. You can also call the Butterfly Foundation National Helpline . You can also call the Butterfly Foundation for advice if youre concerned about a family member or friend.
Your doctor can advise you on diagnosis and possible treatment options, which will depend on your individual circumstances and the type of eating disorder you have.
What Are The Different Types Of Eating Disorder
One eating disorder called orthorexia was only described for the first time in the 1990s. As a result, there have been several changes in how eating disorders are grouped together, or classified.
The World Health Organization uses a classification called ICD-10, which splits eating disorders up into Anorexia Nervosa Bulimia Nervosa Overeating Associated with Other Psychological Disturbances and Other Eating Disorders.
The DSM classification, from the American Psychiatric Association, was updated to its fifth version in 2013. DSM-5 breaks eating disorders down into:
- Dismissive of the idea of eating more or encouragement from others to do so
You will have an unhealthy eating cycle if you have bulimia. You will eat a lot of food and then do something to yourself to stop weight gain. You may make yourself vomit, take laxatives or over-exercise. The eating is called binging and what you do after is called purging. You will usually have an average body weight. This may mean other people do not notice you are having these problems.
Some symptoms include:
- Binging eating large amounts of food in a short space of time with little control
- Purging avoiding putting on weight by making yourself vomit, using laxatives or extreme amounts of exercise
- Fear of gaining weight
- Low self-esteem or negative self-image
- Experiencing mood changes such as anxiety or tension
Binge eating disorder
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