What are eating disorders?
We’ve all heard the term “eating disorder” and for most it conjures up visions of severely underweight, malnourished (“anorexic”) young women. And while this may be partially true, there are many different types of eating disorders that can impact men, women and children of all ages and they do not always present as dangerously underweight.
So what is an eating disorder? It’s actually a form of mental illness that includes extreme emotions, attitudes and behaviors surrounding weight and food issues. They can have serious emotional and physical consequences. In fact, eating disorder sufferers have the highest mortality rate of any mental health disorder.
Anorexia nervosa is characterized by an obsessive fear of weight gain and a refusal to maintain a healthy body weight.
ARFID is a lesser known eating disorder that frequently begins as early as infancy or childhood, but adults can also suffer. It’s not uncommon for a child, or even an adult, to be considered a “picky eater” and go undiagnosed with a more serious eating disorder.
Binge Eating Disorder
Binge eating disorder is characterized by frequent overeating – at least once a week for three months – combined with a lack of control, intense feelings of distress and several other characteristic behaviors.
Bulimia is characterized by patterns of bingeing and purging.
Compulsive overeating can involve binge eating and weight gain, but it can also involve other behaviors.
The term diabulimia is used to describe the diagnosis of an eating disorder in an individual with type 1 diabetes. These patients intentionally misuse insulin for weight control.
Some eating disorders do not meet all of the diagnostic criteria for specific diagnoses like anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.
Watch as our ERC expert answers the question "Why Do People Develop Eating Disorders?"
Know the signs and seek help
Once the disorder has taken hold, it can become a self-sustaining process that usually requires professional help and support to recover. Fortunately, full and lasting recovery from an eating disorder is possible. Please call us at 877-711-1690 to schedule a free confidential consultation with an Eating Recovery Center Masters-level clinician who can help you review your symptoms and eating disorder treatment options.