Different types of eating disorders

The Different Types of Eating Disorders

July 31, 2017 234 13 No Comments


There are several different types of eating disorders. Eating disorders are psychological disorders characteristic of emotional and behavioral issues centered around body weight and food concerns. There is not one type of person that is more likely to develop an eating disorder. These serious disorders can affect anyone, including males and females. However, eating disorders tend to develop around adolescence. As an individual ages, it becomes less likely that they will develop an eating disorder. In addition, eating disorders are often accompanied by other psychological disorders such as depression or anxiety. According to the DSM-5, there are 5 main categories that an eating disorder can fall into. A brief overview of each type of eating disorder is helpful for more in-depth understanding of warning signs and steps to recovery.



Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa involves extremely low food intake, which leads to an extremely low body weight. Additionally, a person suffering from anorexia nervosa might report an intense fear of weight gain or engage in behaviors that prevent them from gaining necessary weight. Individuals with anorexia nervosa also report their body image as being a determining factor in their self-esteem. It is important to note that most individuals will often attribute their body image as a contributing factor to their self-esteem. The difference between this normal behavior and that of individuals with anorexia nervosa is the significance that body image is given. Finally, anorexia nervosa often inhibits individuals from recognizing the severity of their situation. Anorexia nervosa can be further divided into two sub-categories: binge-eating/purging type and restricting type. Binge-eating/purging type involves the occurrence of binge eating and/or purging behaviors within the last few months. In contrast, restricting subtype involves no binging or purging. Instead, those with restricting subtype simply constrict their diet severely.

Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia nervosa involves recurrent episodes of bingeing, which is categorized by consuming objectively large amounts of food followed by behaviors to prevent weight gain. Such weight gain preventing behaviors may include self-induced vomiting, laxative use, diuretic use, or excessive exercise. In addition, binge eating episodes must be categorized by feeling a loss of control in these situations. Indications of being out of control may include eating when not hungry, eating until uncomfortable, or eating alone in order to avoid shame of the behavior. Similar to anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa is involved with body image having a large influence over self-esteem. Despite this similarity, the two disorders manifest themselves in different ways.

Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating disorder (BED) has many similarities to bulimia nervosa. The main difference between the two disorders is that BED episodes are not followed by efforts to prevent weight gain. Therefore, BED involves the same behaviors as bulimia nervosa, aside from purging behaviors and a large influence from body image.

Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder

An individual is diagnosed with this particular type of eating disorder if they are experiencing significant distress or impairment, but their conditions do not meet the criteria for another eating disorder within the DSM-5. Examples include:

  • Atypical anorexia nervosa (the individual might not have low enough body weight)

  • Bulimia nervosa behaviors, but the frequency might not be high enough to be officially diagnosed with the disorder

  • Binge eating disorder with lower occurrence

  • Purging disorder (purging behaviors without the occurrence of binging behaviors)

  • Night eating syndrome (eating excessively at night)

Additional Eating and Feeding Disorders

Individuals may be diagnosed with additional eating or feeding disorders. These disorders are different from Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorders by the fact that they are specific disorders, and Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorders are sub-threshold disorders. Examples of additional eating and feeding disorders:

  • Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID): individuals with ARFID experience a disturbance in eating that results in malnutrition.

  • Pica is a disorder categorized by recurrent consumption of nonfood substances that are not culturally sanctioned.

  • Rumination disorder involves the recurrent regurgitation of food either with or without reswallowing.

Now that you have a general understanding of the various types of eating disorders, it is important to be aware of the warning signs associated with eating disorders.

Common warning signs include: eating disorder warning

  • Changes in weight – Dramatic shifts in weight can be a sign of an eating disorder. However, it is important to remember that individuals can be diagnosed with an eating disorder and still have normal body weight.

  • Obsession with body image – Since many eating disorders have symptoms related to a preoccupation with body image or weight, it is important to pay special attention to this factor. If an individual is expressing an unusual obsession with their body image, they could possibly have an eating disorder.

  • Alterations in eating patterns or habits – Any type of unusual change in eating patterns can be a warning sign. For example, the individual may start eating alone, develop aversions to certain types of food, have specific eating rituals, eating smaller portions, or going to the bathroom after eating to engage in a compensatory behavior.

  • Obsession with nutritional content of food – Individuals with certain eating disorders may start having preoccupations with how healthy or unhealthy certain foods may be. For example, he or she might begin to label certain foods as bad and might never eat them anymore. Common foods that tend to be removed from the diet are those high in fat content or carbohydrates.

  • Obsession with exercise – Excessive exercise or talking about exercise more than usual can be warning signs.

  • Use of compensatory substances such as laxatives or diet pills – If an individual suddenly begins using these substances, they may be suffering from an eating disorder.

  • Changes in mood – As previously mentioned, eating disorders tend to co-occur with depression and anxiety. If an individual is expressing changes in mood, it may be a warning sign. Additionally, many individuals with eating disorders often retract from social interaction and previously enjoyed activities.

All of these can be warning signs for eating disorders. However, it is important to note that these are not always signs that a person definitely has an eating disorder. Individuals may be expressing these behaviors and be perfectly healthy.

Now that you have an understanding of different eating disorders and warning signs associated with them, it is essential to be aware of how to recover from an eating disorder. Here are some guiding tips:


If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, please do not wait. Reach out for help. Please visit: https://therapycable.com/pages/mental-health-and-healthcare-resources.html


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