About Eating Disorders

What Are Eating Disorders?

Eating disorders are severe disturbances in attitudes and behaviors around eating, weight, shape, and body image. Contrary to popular belief, eating disorders affect people of all genders, races, ethnicities, socio-economic statuses, etc. These disorders are often accompanied by emotional (e.g., depression, anxiety) and interpersonal difficulties, as well as medical complications, which can lead to hospitalization. Unfortunately, eating disorders can be life-threatening and often require professional treatment, and ALL eating disorders come with serious consequences.

Types of Eating Disorders:

Anorexia Nervosa and Atypical Anorexia Nervosa (AN and AAN): Anorexia nervosa is classified by severe caloric restriction, significant weight loss, and low body weight, as well as a disturbance in the way the individual perceives his/her body. Alternatively, individuals may have an atypical presentation of anorexia nervosa, in which they have lost a significant amount of weight but are not underweight. Complications for both AN and atypical AN can include multi-organ failure and sudden cardiac death.

Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID): Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder is characterized by malnutrition due to picky eating, poor appetite, or avoidance of eating due to fear of choking or vomiting. Individuals with ARFID can experience weight loss and other medical complications similar to those seen in AN.

Bulimia Nervosa (BN): Bulimia nervosa is characterized by cycles of binge eating and one or more behaviors designed to “compensate” for binge eating (for example, self-induced vomiting or excessive exercise). Complications can include electrolyte abnormalities, arrhythmias, and death.

Binge Eating Disorder (BED): Binge eating disorder is characterized by a sense of loss of control that results in binge eating. Patients can experience complications similar to BN.

Other Eating Disorders: Individuals with other unspecified eating disorders demonstrate significantly disordered eating behaviors and emotional distress, and these disorders are as serious and can be as dangerous as the eating disorders outlined above. Patients can experience medical complications similar to those seen in AN and BN. Some examples of other eating disorders include the following: Rumination disorder, Pica, and Purging disorder.