Are there different types of eating disorders?

Kelly Davis, Mental Health America

Yes. The most common types of eating disorders are:

  • Anorexia: Anorexia involves restricting food intake, significant weight loss, intense fear of weight gain, and a distorted perception of appearance. It’s often accompanied by very specific rules and rituals around food and social isolation.
  • Bulimia: Bulimia involves binging and purging. Binging means a person eats an abnormally large amount of food in a short time frame. They feel ashamed and out of control while eating. Binging is followed by purging in the form of vomiting, laxative or drug use, fasting, or over exercise.
  • Binge Eating Disorder: Binge eating disorder is diagnosed when a person repeatedly consumes abnormally large amounts of food in short timeframes. It is distinct from overeating in that is causes serious pain and shame and the person feels out of control during binges.
  • OSFED (formerly EDNOS): Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED), formerly referred to as Eating Disorder- Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS), is a term used when someone has eating disorder behaviors but doesn’t meet the full clinical guidelines for other eating disorders. For example, a person restricts food intake, has an intense fear of gaining weight, and a distorted perception of their appearance. They are not classified as being underweight by their doctor, which means they do not meet full criteria for anorexia despite having all the other signs. They would be considered OSFED.

No matter which eating disorder or eating behaviors you are struggling with, it’s important to reach out for help. All eating disorders can have serious physical health effects and impact your ability to live a full life and do the things you care about. Recovery is hard, but it is possible and worth it.

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