About Eating Disorders

Eating Disorders are a group of serious conditions in which a person is so preoccupied with food and weight that he or she can often focus on little else. The main types of Eating Disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder. Eating Disorders can cause serious physical problems and, at their most severe, can even be life threatening.

Most people with Eating Disorders are females, but males can also have Eating Disorders. An exception is binge-eating disorder, which appears to affect almost as many males as females. Treatments for Eating Disorders usually involve psychotherapy, nutrition education, family counseling, medications and hospitalization.

Anorexia signs and symptoms may include:

Refusal to eat and denial of hunger; An intense fear of gaining weight; A negative or distorted self-image; Excessive exercise; Flat mood or lack of emotion; Irritability; Fear of eating in public; Preoccupation with food; Social withdrawal; Thin appearance; Trouble sleeping; Soft, downy hair present on the body (lanugo); Menstrual irregularities or loss of menstruation (amenorrhea); Constipation; Abdominal pain; Dry skin; Frequently being cold; Irregular heart rhythms; Low blood pressure; Dehydration.

Bulimia signs and symptoms may include:

Eating until the point of discomfort or pain, often with high-fat or sweet foods; Self-induced vomiting; Laxative use; Excessive exercise; An unhealthy focus on body shape and weight; A distorted, excessively negative body image; Low self-esteem; Going to the bathroom after eating or during meals; A feeling that you can’t control your eating behavior; Abnormal bowel functioning; Damaged teeth and gums; Swollen salivary glands in the cheeks; Sores in the throat and mouth; Dehydration; Irregular heartbeat; Sores, scars or calluses on the knuckles or hands; Menstrual irregularities or loss of menstruation (amenorrhea); Constant dieting or fasting; Possibly, drug or alcohol abuse.

Binge-eating disorder signs and symptoms may include:

Eating to the point of discomfort or pain; Eating much more food during a binge episode than during a normal meal or snack; Eating faster during binge episodes; Feeling that your eating behavior is out of control; Frequently eating alone; Feeling depressed, disgusted or upset over the amount eaten.

Explore More

Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia

Marya Hornbacher (January 31, 2006)

Seconds to Snap

Tina McGuff and Katy Weitz (June 4, 2015)

Additional Resources

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