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Understanding the Different Types of Eating Disorders

types-of-eating-disordersThere are a multiple types of eating disorders affecting individuals every single day.  By getting the facts straight, you can help break the stigma of these extremely devastating and life-threatening illnesses.

Types of Eating Disorders

Despite countless types of eating disorders, the illness is greatly misunderstood by individuals who know they suffer from the disease, are uncertain they are experiencing disordered eating behaviors, and society who are stigmatizing the disease. Many eating disordered individuals stray from treatment and recovery because they are heavily under the influence of their illness, which may be suggesting that their eating disorder is a lifestyle choice when it is actually a sickness.  Society may perceive it as a choice but this is false.  Much like with a substance abuse, eating disorders can spiral into the cycle of addiction where the individual is unable to stop in spite of negative consequences.

Binge eating disorder (BED)

Binge eating disorder is probably the most common eating disorder that most sufferers may not even realize they have.  This eating disorder is displayed when the individual has a great quantity of food in a small amount of time. Feelings of being out of control may even be present  during this time.  Binging may occur due to stress, anxiety, culture, or even trace back to gender.  Physical signs of binge eating disorder may include feeling sluggish, weak, bloated, tired, constipated, and intolerant of specific foods.  Because eating disorders can take a toll on both the mind and body, some other symptoms may that may develop include depression, anxiety, irritability, feelings of worthlessness, isolating, erratic behavior, overcompensating by spending money on luxurious items like clothes, and/or acting out by others means like self-harm or substance abuse.  Society is often prone to overlooking binge eating disorder with the judgement that the individual has a lack of willpower to abstain from indulging when the truth is the stigma needs to be broken because it’s just as serious as another eating disorder.

Bulimia nervosa

Individuals suffering from bulimia nervosa have occurrences where they consume excessive amounts of food and take unhealthy measures to counteract it, which may include self-induced vomiting, over-exercising, taking excessive diet pills, fasting, taking diuretics, and/or laxative abuse.  According to National Eating Disorders Awareness, an estimated 35 to 57% of teenage girls engage in disordered eating; behaviors such as fasting, forced vomiting, diet pills, and using laxatives to manage their weight.  Although this doesn’t necessarily mean they meet all the criteria, it shows how if disordered eating behaviors like this continue and become a regular, consistent habit, it can develop into the eating disorder known as bulimia.

Anorexia nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder where the individual restricts the amount of food necessary to function through the day.  Anorexics tend to see themselves as larger than they actually are.  While they have a fear of gaining weight, sufferers obsess over their weight, size, and body image.  There are two sub-types of anorexia with one being the restricting, in which the anorexic limits their food intake severely, and the other where the individual eats minimally but may binge only to engage in purging behaviors when they do in order to undo it.

Otherwise Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED)

Formerly known as Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS), the recently reclassified Otherwise Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED) was renamed to best fit any individual who may be displaying symptoms of eating disorders but not meet the guidelines for diagnosis of other eating disorders.  According to National Eating Disorders Collaboration, 30% of people in eating disorder treatment suffer from OSFED.  Eating disorders that may not currently be recognized in the DSM-5 tend to fall in this category, like orthorexia nervosa, night eating syndrome, rumination disorder, pica, avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder, and more.

Being aware of types of eating disorders is important for preventative measures and understanding that these are serious diseases.  By being properly educated about them, the stigma can gradually begin to broken on eating disorders and the disease of addiction and mental illness as a whole.

Eating disorders often co-occur with substance use disorders.  Are you suffering from a substance use disorder like the disease of addiction?  Reach out to The Watershed today so that you don’t have to live another day in misery and instead can begin living happy, joyous, and free.  Call now at 1-800-439-5959.

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