What are Eating Disorders?

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What are Eating Disorders?

Eating disorders are disorders that cause a person to have an unhealthy relationship with food. They often coexist with low self-esteem, unhealthy body image, depression, anxiety, difficulty coping with emotions, and substance misuse/addiction. There are three main eating disorders: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder.

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder marked by a severe limit of the intake of food. People who live with anorexia nervosa perceive themselves as being overweight despite the fact that they are often dangerously underweight. Because of this anorexia nervosa has a very high mortality rate. Symptoms include extreme restricted eating, emaciation, distorted body image, body dysmorphia, compulsive exercise, and an intense fear of weight gain.

Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder that generally features both binge-eating and the forced expulsion of food through methods like intentional vomiting and the excessive use of laxatives and/or diuretics. Other symptoms include compulsive exercise and periods of fasting or severe limiting of the intake of food. It can be more difficult to see early warning signs of bulimia nervosa than anorexia nervosa because someone who lives with bulimia nervosa can often maintain a normal body weight.

Binge-eating disorder is an eating disorder where a person cannot control their eating. Symptoms include eating unusually large quantities of food, compulsively eating at certain times, eating when you’re not hungry, eating when you’re uncomfortably full, being embarrassed, distressed, and/or ashamed of eating habits. Binge-eating is the most common eating disorder in the United States and often leads to obesity.

If you believe that you or a loved one may have an eating disorder please take this free, anonymous, online screening.

For more information about eating disorders visit Mental Health America’s website.