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What Is An Eating Disorder

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Other Specified Feeding And Eating Disorders

What is an Eating Disorder? | Kati Morton

Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorders was previously known as Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified in past editions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. Despite being considered a catch-all classification that was sometimes denied insurance coverage for treatment as it was seen as less serious, OSFED/EDNOS is a serious, life-threatening, and treatable eating disorder. The category was developed to encompass those individuals who did not meet strict diagnostic criteria for anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa but still had a significant eating disorder. In community clinics, the majority of individuals were historically diagnosed with EDNOS.Common Signs & Symptoms:Because OSFED encompasses a wide variety of eating disordered behaviors, any or all of the following symptoms may be present in people with OSFED.

  • Frequent episodes of consuming very large amount of food followed by behaviors to prevent weight gain, such as self-induced vomiting
  • Evidence of binge eating, including disappearance of large amounts of food in short periods of time or lots of empty wrappers and containers indicating consumption of large amounts of food
  • Self-esteem overly related to body image
  • Dieting behavior
  • Expresses a need to burn off calories taken in
  • Evidence of purging behaviors, including frequent trips to the bathroom after meals, signs and/or smells of vomiting, presence of wrappers or packages of laxatives or diuretics

Causes & Risk Factors

Eating disorders appear to result from multiple factors including cultural, social, family and emotional pressures personality disorders genetics and biological factors. Some research has shown a connection between child sexual abuse and subsequent development of eating disorders. Eating disorders typically begin during adolescence. Moreover, up to 90 per cent of eating disorders occur in women, though men are being diagnosed more often.

Types Of Eating Disorders

The most common eating disorders are:

  • anorexia nervosa trying to control your weight by not eating enough food, exercising too much, or doing both
  • bulimia losing control over how much you eat and then taking drastic action to not put on weight
  • binge eating disorder eating large portions of food until you feel uncomfortably full

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If You Think You Have An Eating Disorder

Many people have problems with their eating. If you do have an eating disorder, it is important to seek help. Remember that with support from health professionals, eating disorders can be recovered from. Getting professional help and support from others is important. Recovery may be slow as you learn to approach food in a more positive way and understand the reasons for your behaviour, but the effort will be worthwhile.

Treatment And Recovery For People With Eating Disorders

6 Common Types of Eating Disorders

Many different forms of therapy are available. It is important to remember that different approaches work for different people. Finding the right approach and early intervention maximises prospects of recovery. Professional help and support from others is important.Because eating disorders affect people physically and mentally, a range of health professionals might be involved in treatment, including:

  • psychiatrists

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What Causes Eating Disorders

It is unlikely that an eating disorder has one single cause. It’s normally due to a combination of many factors, events, feelings or pressures. A person might use food to help them deal with painful situations or feelings without realising it.

These factors may include low self-esteem, problems with friends or family relationships, problems at school, university or work, high academic expectations, lack of confidence, concerns about sexuality, or sexual assault or emotional abuse.

Traumatic events can trigger an eating disorder, such as the death of someone special , bullying, abuse or divorce. Someone with a long-term illness or disability may also have eating problems.

Studies have shown that genetics may also be a contributing factor to eating disorders.

How To Treat Eating Disorders

Due to the insidious ways in which eating disorders pervade all aspects of ones body, mind, and life, receiving the appropriate treatment is important. There are various levels of care designed to treat specific stages of eating disorder severitythese range from inpatient at a medical facility down to outpatient. Any eating disorder treatment center can assess a struggling individual to determine the appropriate level of care.

Outside of receiving treatment in general, it is also important to ensure the facility uses evidence-based practices, as these can lead to better long-term outcomes.

There are many evidence-based treatments that can support eating disorder recovery the most well-known and most commonly used is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy , Dialectical Behavior Therapy , and Family-Based Treatment .

Do not be afraid to ask any questions that arise if you or a loved one are searching for the treatment that will best support recovery.

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International Classification Of Diseases

BED was first included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 1994 simply as a feature of eating disorder. In 2013 it gained formal recognition as a psychiatric condition in the DSM-5.

The 2017 update to the American version of the includes BED under F50.81. may contain a dedicated entry , defining BED as frequent, recurrent episodes of binge eating which are not regularly followed by inappropriate compensatory behaviors aimed at preventing weight gain.

Eating Disorders Vs Disordered Eating

What is an Eating Disorder?

The primary delineating factor between disordered eating and a diagnosable eating disorder is the frequency and severity of the abnormal eating pattern. Although both disordered eating and eating disorders are abnormal, eating disorders have very specific diagnostic criteria outlining frequent and severe behaviors.

Many of the individuals demonstrate problematic or disordered relationships with food, body, and exercise. Individuals may count calories, over-exercise, exercise solely to lose weight, and cringe at the sight of skin folds, thigh dimples, and cellulite. These are normal, and it is time to start normalizing bodies of all shapes and sizes.

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Signs Of Binge Eating Disorder

Rather than simply eating too much all the time, people with binge eating disorder have frequent episodes where they binge on large quantities of food. Like people with bulimia, they often feel out of control during these episodes and later feel guilt and shame about it. The behavior becomes a vicious cycle, because the more distressed they feel about bingeing, the more they seem to do it. Because people with binge eating disorder do not purge, fast, or exercise after they binge, they are usually overweight or obese.

Unlike other eating disorders, binge eating disorder is almost as common in men as it is in women. According to statistics from the National Institute of Mental Health, the average age at onset for binge eating disorder is 25, and it is more common in people under age 60.

Common signs of binge eating disorder include:

  • Evidence of binge eating, including disappearance of large amounts of food in a short time, or finding lots of empty food wrappers or containers
  • Hoarding food, or hiding large quantities of food in strange places
  • Wearing baggy clothes to hide the body
  • Skipping meals or avoiding eating in front of others
  • Constantly dieting, but rarely losing weight

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of an eating disorder is the first step toward getting help for it. Eating disorders are treatable, and with the right treatment and support, most people with an eating disorder can learn healthy eating habits and get their lives back on track.

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Common Types Of Eating Disorders

Although the term eating is in the name, eating disorders are about more than food. Theyre complex mental health conditions that often require the intervention of medical and psychological experts to alter their course.

These disorders are described in the American Psychiatric Associations Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition .

In the United States alone, an estimated 20 million women and 10 million men have or have had an eating disorder at some point in their life .

This article describes 6 of the most common types of eating disorders and their symptoms.

Eating disorders are a range of psychological conditions that cause unhealthy eating habits to develop. They might start with an obsession with food, body weight, or body shape.

In severe cases, eating disorders can cause serious health consequences and may even result in death if left untreated.

Those with eating disorders can have a variety of symptoms. However, most include the severe restriction of food, food binges, or purging behaviors like vomiting or over-exercising.

Although eating disorders can affect people of any gender at any life stage, theyre most often reported in adolescents and young women. In fact, up to 13% of youth may experience at least one eating disorder by the age of 20 .

Summary Eating disorders are mental health conditions marked by an obsession with food or body shape. They can affect anyone but are most prevalent among young women.

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Other Eating Disorders And Eating Problems

Other specified feeding and eating disorder

OFSED means you have symptoms of an eating disorder, but you dont have all the typical symptoms of anorexia, bulimia or BED. You may have a mixture of symptoms from different eating disorders. This doesnt mean that your illness is less serious.

Emotional overeating

You turn to food when you have negative feelings if you are an emotional overeater. These can be feelings like anxiety or sadness. Eating food may help you to feel comforted.

Lots of people use food to help manage feelings, this is normal. But it may become a problem if this is the only management technique that you have, or you are beginning to feel out of control. Emotional overeating can cause feelings of guilt and shame.


With pica, you eat non-food objects such as chalk, paint, stones and clothing. There is no nutritional benefit from eating these items and some can be harmful. Pica can lead to further health concerns such as dental and stomach problems.

Rumination disorder

You will chew and spit out food without swallowing it if you have rumination disorder. You may do this repeatedly.

Selective eating disorder

You will only eat certain foods and may refuse to try other foods if you have SED. This is common in young children. But the problem can continue into adulthood.

Orthorexia nervosa

In this section

How Is An Eating Disorder Diagnosed

How College Students and Binge Eating Disorder Are Related ...

Healthcare providers, such as physicians and mental health professionals, diagnose eating disorders. Your primary care provider may review symptoms, perform a physical examination and order blood tests. A mental health counselor, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist, conducts a psychological evaluation to learn more about your eating behaviors and beliefs.

Providers use the American Psychiatric Associations Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders to make a diagnosis. The DSM outlines symptoms for each type of eating disorder. You dont have to have every symptom to receive an eating disorder diagnosis. And even if you dont have a specific DSM-listed eating disorder, you may still need help overcoming food-related issues.

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Subtypes Of Anorexia Nervosa

Restricting type

A person with the restricting subtype of anorexia nervosa severely restricts energy intake and weight loss occurs primarily through dieting, fasting and/or excessive exercise. Recurrent episodes of binge eating or purging behaviour have not been observed in the past three months.

Binge-eating/purging type

A person with this subtype of anorexia nervosa severely restricts energy intake and has also engaged in recurrent episodes of binge eating or purging behaviour during the past three months.

Get Help For An Eating Disorder

It is crucial for individuals recovering from an eating disorder to find a trusted licensed professional. By teaming up with a team of healthcare professionals, recovery can be possible. If you or someone you know has an eating disorder or is exhibiting behaviors of concern, talk to a provider. Early intervention is key. The earlier an eating disorder is diagnosed and treated, the improved likelihood of successful recovery. Reach out for help as soon as possible. If you are ready to take the next step towards recovery, contact a treatment provider today.

Clinically Reviewed:

Dayna Smith-Slade

  • About

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Dayna Smith-Slade is the President and CEO of Substance Abuse Solutions, L.L.C., a unique and innovative substance abuse consulting firm based in Springfield, Virginia. Her Small, Women, and Minority owned firm is committed to increasing drug and alcohol awareness in the community and decreasing the prevalence and debilitating impact of substance abuse. Dayna is a seasoned counselor with experience in a variety of therapeutic milieus. She is a dynamic public speaker that has been the featured trainer at national conferences and the featured guest on local television and radio talk shows.

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What If I Have An Eating Disorder

If you think you may have an eating disorder:

Tell someone. Tell a parent, teacher, counselor, or an adult you trust. Let them know what you’re going through. Ask them to help.

Get help early. When an eating disorder is caught early, a person has a better chance of recovery. Make an appointment with your doctor or an eating disorders specialist.

Go to all appointments. Treatment takes time and effort. Work hard to learn about yourself and your emotions. Ask questions any time you have them.

Be patient with yourself. There’s so much to learn, and change happens a little at a time. Take care of yourself and be with people who support you.

When To Seek Support

What is an eating disorder?

With support and treatment, it is possible to recover from eating disorders. If a person believes that they have any form of disordered eating, they should speak with a doctor or a mental health professional as soon as possible.

Eating disorder recovery often involves working with a team to address the underlying causes of the condition, as well as its physical effects. The team may include:

  • a registered dietitian, who can help someone learn about the bodys need for nutrients and how to work toward a balanced diet
  • a primary care doctor, who can help heal or manage physical symptoms
  • a dentist, who can address the effects of bulimia on the teeth
  • a psychiatrist, if a person needs medications to reduce psychological symptoms

People can also benefit from online or in-person support groups. Some support groups are specifically for people with eating disorders, such as those associated with the National Eating Disorders Association . Others deal with support for mental illness in general, such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness Connection groups.

Inpatient, outpatient, and residential treatment programs for people with eating disorders can include many of the above services in one place.

During the recovery process, compassion and support from family, friends, and colleagues are important. Some support groups or recovery programs may allow loved ones to attend sessions so that they can gain an understanding of eating disorders.

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What Is An Emotional Eating Disorder

Since emotional eating disorder is not yet included in DSM-V, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, diagnostic criteria are not available. Roughly speaking, its not the first time weve been able to it is appropriate to define it as impaired eating behavior due to mood. I mean, I dont know The fact that the person has difficulty managing the emotions that challenge him, such as tension, boredom, sadness, and uses eating as a means to avoid feeling emotions, can sum up impaired eating behavior due to his mood.

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What Are The Signs Of An Eating Disorder

There are numerous types of eating disorder, each of which has different signs and symptoms. Often, these disorders affect someones emotions, behavior, and physical health.

Some of the most common eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa, can be related to body image and self-esteem. People with these disorders can be excessively concerned with losing weight or avoiding weight gain.

In some cases, the desire to control food intake may stem from the person feeling as though they do not have control over other aspects of their life.

Although people typically think of eating disorders as leading to dangerous weight loss, this is not always the case, and some people will have few obvious physical symptoms. People of all sizes can have eating disorders. For this reason, it is important to know all of the ways in which eating disorders can affect people.

This article looks at the potential signs of eating disorders and some of the related conditions. It also discusses how to find support.

Eating disorders are serious mental and physical health conditions associated with extreme changes to a persons eating behavior. Despite the myths surrounding eating disorders, they can affect people of all ages, genders, races, ethnicities, and body shapes.

Some eating disorders affect a persons feelings about food and its relationship to their body weight. These include:

Other types of eating disorders stem more from physical issues or intellectual impairments. These include:

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Can I Be Detained In Hospital Under The Mental Health Act

Eating disorders are mental disorders. Your life may be at risk if your eating disorder is very bad. You may need treatment in hospital. If you refuse treatment you can be sent to hospital. You can be treated against your will under the Mental Health Act.

How will doctors decide if I should be detained under the Mental Health Act?

Doctors will look at risk to decide if you need to be sent to hospital. They should not base their decision on your weight or body mass index alone. Other things they will look at include:

  • your pulse, blood pressure and core temperature,
  • muscle power,
  • blood tests for things like your sodium, potassium and glucose levels, and
  • your heart rate.

Can I be force-fed?

Feeding is recognised as treatment for anorexia under the Mental Health Act.

The person in charge of your care under the Mental Health Act is called the responsible clinician. This person will be a psychiatrist or another professional who has had specialist training.

A responsible clinician must be appointed to look after your care if you are detained on a medical ward.

You can find more information about the Mental Health Act by clicking here.

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