How Many Different Types Of Eating Disorders Are There

Talking About Eating Problems

6 Types of Eating Disorders

Binge eating disorder and your actions

If you experience binge eating disorder, you might:

  • eat large amounts all at once
  • eat without really thinking about it, especially when doing other things
  • often eat unhealthy food
  • eat for comfort when you feel stressed, upset, bored or unhappy
  • eat until you feel uncomfortably full or sick
  • hide how much you are eating
  • find dieting hard whenever you try it.

âI dread any event with a buffet. Because I know I’ll eat and I’ll keep eating and I won’t even enjoy it but I’ll eat because I feel somehow I have to. I’ll eat even when I’m feeling full, when I’m feeling bloated, feeling pain in my gut, feeling sick.â

Binge eating disorder and your body

While experiencing binge eating disorder, you might:

Media And The Environment

The average person lives their life awash in images of perfect-looking men, women, girls, boys, and non-gender-identified individuals. Most people are inundated with concepts of attractiveness that focus on being thin, trim, or fit.

Teens and children often lack the tools to cope with the feelings these images cause.

According to the Dove Girls and Beauty Confidence: The Global Report, more than half of girls around the world lack high body self-esteem. Eighty percent avoid activities they would otherwise engage in, while seventy percent risk their health to stay slim or report being less assertive when they dont look how they want to.

Diagnosis Of An Eating Disorder

The first step towards getting help for an eating disorder is usually to visit the GP. We have a leaflet that can help you with this appointment. If you’re not registered with a GP, you can learn more about how to do this in:

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence and the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network give evidence-based guidelines about how to treat different illnesses, recommends that if the GP thinks someone may have an eating disorder, they should immediately refer them to an eating disorder specialist for further assessment or treatment.

Diagnosis is made by taking a history, which means talking to the person about their feelings and behaviour. It may also involve some physical tests, such as checking their height and weight, and blood tests. Diagnosis is usually essential to be able to access treatment. Each type of eating disorder has a list of criteria that doctors and healthcare professionals use to diagnose an eating disorder. You can read more about what might happen at a doctors appointment here, and what treatment involves here.

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Helping Them Get Professional Help

If you are really worried about someone, it is important to encourage them to seek professional help. This could be in the form of therapy or medication. You can also offer to go with them to their appointments. Professional help is vital for people with eating disorders and can make a huge difference in their recovery.

The most important thing you can do is to offer your support and be there for them, no matter what. Recovery is possible with the right help. Therefore, if you are concerned about someone, dont hesitate to reach out and offer your assistance. Types of Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses that can have a profound impact on someones life.

Other Specified Feeding Or Eating Disorder

Types of Eating Disorder Therapy

OSFED is a catch-all for types of eating disorders that dont fit into the above categories. Doctors and psychologists will often diagnose those with atypical anorexia or bulimia, as well as the following 7 unofficial diagnoses, with OSFED.

Unofficial Eating Disorder Diagnoses

These disorders are not included in any diagnostic manual, but doctors and psychologists still use these terms. Practitioners often group people with these conditions into OSFED, other specified feeding or eating disorder, as the official diagnosis. However, these terms are more specific and can help us communicate more clearly.

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Who Is At Risk For Eating Disorders

Eating disorders can develop at any age. They affect all genders, races and ethnicities. Its a myth that eating disorders mostly affect girls and women. Boys and men are equally at risk. Certain factors may make you more prone to developing an eating disorder, such as:

  • Family history of eating disorders, addiction, or other mental health issues, such as depression.
  • A history of trauma .

Other factors include:

  • Involvement in activities that focus on a slender appearance, such as modeling, gymnastics, swimming, wrestling and running.
  • Major life changes, such as starting a new school or job, a divorce or a move.
  • Perfectionistic tendencies.

What Are The Symptoms Of Eating Disorders

It is not always easy to tell if someone has an eating disorder, since they may try to hide it because of shame or guilt. However, some of the behaviours associated with eating disorders include:

  • Dieting: this could mean calorie counting, fasting, skipping meals, avoiding certain food groups or having obsessive rituals related to eating.
  • Binge eating: including hoarding of food or the disappearance of large amounts of food from the kitchen.
  • Purging: vomiting or using laxatives to rid the body of food. People who purge often make trips to the bathroom during or after eating.
  • Excessive exercise: a person may refuse to disrupt their exercise routine for any reason, insist on doing a certain number of repetitive exercises or become distressed if unable to exercise.
  • Social withdrawal: the person may avoid social events and situations that involve eating, or they prefer to eat alone.
  • Body image: the person may focus on body shape and weight.
  • Change in clothing style: the person may start wearing baggy clothes, for example.

There are also physical signs that a person may have an eating disorder, such as:

  • Weight changes: fluctuations in weight or rapid weight loss.
  • Disturbed menstrual cycle: loss of or disrupted periods.
  • Being cold: sensitivity to cold weather.
  • Inability to concentrate .

Some of the emotional signs of an eating disorder include:

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How Do You Know If You Have An Eating Disorder

If you have an eating disorder, identifying the condition and seeking treatment sooner will improve your chances of recovering. Being aware of the warning signs and symptoms can help you decide whether you need to seek help.

Not everyone will have every sign or symptom at once, but certain behaviors may signal a problem, such as :

  • behaviors and attitudes that indicate that weight loss, dieting, and control over food are becoming primary concerns
  • preoccupation with weight, food, calories, fats, grams, and dieting
  • refusal to eat certain foods
  • discomfort with eating around others
  • skipping meals or eating only small portions
  • frequent dieting or fad diets
  • extreme concern with body size, shape, and appearance
  • frequently checking in the mirror for perceived flaws in appearance
  • extreme mood swings

If these symptoms resonate with you and you think you may have an eating disorder, its important to reach out to a medical professional for help.

Making the decision to start eating disorder recovery might feel scary or overwhelming, but seeking help from medical professionals, eating disorder recovery support groups, and your community can make recovery easier.

If youre not sure where to start, you can contact the National Eating Disorders Association helpline for support, resources, and treatment options for yourself or someone you know.

To contact, call: 931-2237

MondayThursday 11 a.m.9 p.m. ET

Friday 11 a.m.5 p.m. ET

Text: 931-2237

MondayThursday 3 p.m.6 p.m. ET

How Are Eating Disorders Treated

Mayo Clinic Minute: Breaking down types of eating disorders

Eating disorders are best treated by a team that includes a doctor, dietitian, and therapist. Treatment includes nutrition counseling, medical care, and talk therapy . The doctor might prescribe medicine to treat binge eating, anxiety, depression, or other mental health concerns.

The details of the treatment depend on the type of eating disorder and how severe it is. Some people are hospitalized because of extreme weight loss and medical complications.

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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.

Do You Have An Eating Disorder

Ask yourself, How much time do I spend thinking about food, weight and body image? Looking at eating disorders in this way puts them on a spectrum, rather than a yes or no question. If you spend so much time with these concerns that it interferes with your happiness or functioning, ANAD is here to help.

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What Are Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses affecting people of all ages, genders, ethnicities and backgrounds. People with eating disorders use disordered eating behaviour as a way to cope with difficult situations or feelings. This behaviour can include limiting the amount of food eaten, eating very large quantities of food at once, getting rid of food eaten through unhealthy means , or a combination of these behaviours.

Its important to remember that eating disorders are not all about food itself, but about feelings. The way the person treats food may make them feel more able to cope, or may make them feel in control, though they might not be aware of the purpose this behaviour is serving. An eating disorder is never the fault of the person experiencing it, and anyone who has an eating disorder deserves fast, compassionate support to help them get better.

So that healthcare professionals can choose the right kind of treatment for someone, there are a number of different eating disorders that someone can be diagnosed with. Its possible for someone to move between diagnoses if their symptoms change there is often a lot of overlap between different eating disorders.

Do I Have An Eating Disorder

Warning Signs of an Eating Disorder

The kind of questions you can ask yourself include:

  • Does food dominate my life?
  • Do I worry that something bad will happen if I lose control of my eating?
  • Do I have episodes where I feel I have lost control of my eating, then feel disgusted with myself afterwards?
  • Have I lost more than a stone in the last three months?
  • Do people tell me I’m thin, even though I think I’m fat?
  • Do I hide myself away to eat large quantities, because I’m embarrassed to let anyone know what I’m eating?
  • Have I taken laxatives or made myself sick because I’m uncomfortably full?

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Different Types Of Eating Disorders

There are a variety of different types of eating disorders. An eating disorder is usually associated with unusual eating behaviors that negatively impact health.

In this article, were exploring the many different types of eating disorders as well as the benefits of eating disorder treatment.


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:

A serious, potentially life-threatening eating disorder characterized by self-starvation and excessive weight loss.


  • Food restriction leading to significantly low body weight in the context of age, sex, development, and physical health

  • Intense fear of weight gain or becoming fat

  • Persistent behavior interfering with weight gain despite low weight, such as fasting or excessive exercise

  • Disturbed experience of ones body weight or shape, influenced by self-evaluation or persistent lack of recognizing the seriousness of current low body weight

  • Restricting behavior or binge eating and purging behaviors

Medical Complications and Associated Features

  • Signs of depression, such as depressed mood, social withdrawal, irritability, insomnia, and diminished interest in sex

  • Obsessive-compulsive features, both related and unrelated to food

  • Elevated suicide risk

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What Causes Eating Disorders

Experts believe that a variety of factors may contribute to eating disorders.

One of these is genetics. People who have a sibling or parent with an eating disorder seem to be at an increased risk of developing one .

Personality traits are another factor. In particular, neuroticism, perfectionism, and impulsivity are three personality traits often linked to a higher risk of developing an eating disorder, according to a 2015 research review .

Other potential causes include perceived pressures to be thin, cultural preferences for thinness, and exposure to media promoting these ideals .

More recently, experts have proposed that differences in brain structure and biology may also play a role in the development of eating disorders. In particular, levels of the brain messaging chemicals serotonin and dopamine may be factors .

However, more studies are needed before strong conclusions can be made.

Anorexia nervosa is likely the most well-known eating disorder.

It generally develops during adolescence or young adulthood and tends to affect more women than men .

People with anorexia generally view themselves as overweight, even if theyre dangerously underweight. They tend to constantly monitor their weight, avoid eating certain types of foods, and severely restrict their calorie intake.

Common symptoms of anorexia nervosa include :

However, its important to note that weight should not be the major focus of diagnosing someone with anorexia.

Treatment For Eating Disorders

Eating Disorders: are they different in adults? How? What does this mean for recovery?

You can recover from an eating disorder, but it may take time and recovery will be different for everyone.

If youre referred to an eating disorder specialist or team of specialists, theyll be responsible for your care.

They should talk to you about the support you might need, such as for other conditions you have, and include this in your treatment plan.

Your treatment will depend on the type of eating disorder you have, but usually includes a talking therapy.

You may also need regular health checks if your eating disorder is having an impact on your physical health.

Your treatment may also involve working through a guided self-help programme if you have bulimia or binge eating disorder.

Most people will be offered individual therapy, but those with binge eating disorder may be offered group therapy.

Read more about the different treatments for:

Treatment for other specified feeding or eating disorder will depend on the type of eating disorder your symptoms are most like.

For example, if your symptoms are most like anorexia, your treatment will be similar to the treatment for anorexia.

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Other Features Of Anorexia Nervosa

  • Hormonal abnormalities are common, with low levels of luteinizing and thyroid hormones and increased levels of cortisol, leading to amenorrhea and osteoporosis.
  • Cardiac abnormalities, arrhythmias, dehydration and electrolyte imbalance, with low serum potassium, may occur due to frequent vomiting and laxative or diuretic misuse, and can ultimately lead to death.
  • Underlying psychological and psychiatric factors are usually present and intervention is necessary, either in the form of drug therapy and/or counseling.

Restoring nutritional balance, treating complications, and providing psychotherapy to resolve related issues comprise the basic approach to management of anorexia nervosa. There is a higher rate of suicide associated with anorexia nervosa when compared to other eating disorders and early intervention with professional supervision is crucial.

More About Binge Eating Disorder

Binge Eating Disorder is characterized by patterns of excessive overeating, often in rapid fashion. Unlike Bulimia Nervosa, individuals who experience BED may not showcase behaviors of purging in order to prevent weight gain.

Signs that a person may be experiencing Binge Eating Disorder and need help include:

  • Routinely and persistently eating large amounts of food
  • Feelings of the inability to control how much is being eaten
  • Eating food rapidly
  • Eating in isolation to avoid others

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Signs Of Bulimia Nervosa

People with bulimia nervosa have episodes of eating large amounts of food followed by purging , fasting, or exercising excessively to compensate for the overeating.

Unlike anorexia, people with bulimia are often a normal weight. But they have the same intense fear of gaining weight and distorted body image. They see themselves as âfatâ and desperately want to lose weight. Because they often feel ashamed and disgusted with themselves, people with bulimia become very good at hiding the bulimic behaviors.

The following are common signs of bulimia:

  • Evidence of binge eating, including disappearance of large amounts of food in a short time, or finding lots of empty food wrappers or containers
  • Evidence of purging, including trips to the bathroom after meals, sounds or smells of vomiting, or packages of laxatives or diuretics
  • Skipping meals or avoiding eating in front of others, or eating very small portions
  • Exercising excessively
  • Scarred knuckles from repeatedly inducing vomiting

How Are Eating Disorders Diagnosed

Letâs Talk About Eating Disorders

Health care providers and mental health professionals diagnose eating disorders based on history, symptoms, thought patterns, eating behaviors, and an exam.

The doctor will check weight and height and compare these to previous measurements on growth charts. The doctor may order tests to see if there is another reason for the eating problems and to check for problems caused by the eating disorder.

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