Types of Eating Disorders

What is an Eating Disorder?

Some Basic Facts:
Eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder include: extreme emotions, attitudes and behaviors surrounding weight and food issues. Eating disorders are serious emotional and physical problems that can have life-threatening consequences for females and males.

ANOREXIA NERVOSA is characterized by self-starvation and excessive weight loss.

Symptoms include:

  • 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
  • Extreme concern with body weight and shape

BULIMIA NERVOSA is characterized by a secretive cycle of binge eating followed by purging. Bulimia includes eating large amounts of food, more than most people would eat in one meal, in short periods of time, then getting rid of the food and calories through vomiting, laxative abuse or overexercising.

Symptoms include:

  • Repeated episodes of binging and purging
  • Binge-eating and inappropriate compensatory behaviors both occur, on average, at least twice a week for 3 months.
  • Feeling out of control during a binge and eating beyond the point of comfortable fullness
  • Purging after a binge, typically self-induced vomiting, abuse of laxatives, diet pills and/or diuretics, excessive exercise or fasting
  • Frequent dieting
  • Extreme concern with body weight and shape

BINGE EATING DISORDER (also known as COMPULSIVE OVEREATING) is characterized primarily by periods of uncontrolled, impulsive or continuous eating beyond the point of feeling comfortably full. While there is no purging, there may be sporadic fasts or repetitive diets and often feelings of shame or self-hatred after a binge. People who overeat compulsively may struggle with anxiety, depression and loneliness, which can contribute to their unhealthy episodes of binge eating. Body weight may vary from normal to mild, moderate or severe obesity.

An episode of binge eating is characterized by the following:

  • Eating, in a discrete period of time (e.g. within any 2-hour period) an amount of food that is definitely larger than most people would eat during a similar period of time and under similar circumstances.
  • A sense of lack of control during the episode (a feeling that one cannot stop eating or control what or how much one is eating).

can include some combination of the signs and symptoms
of anorexia, bulimia and/or binge eating disorder. While these behaviors may not be clinically considered a full syndrome eating disorder, they can still be physically dangerous and emotionally draining. All eating disorders require professional help.