Helpful Resources

National Eating Disorder Association

1-800-931-2237

"Live as if your were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever. You must learn to be still in the midst of activity and be vibrantly alive in repose."

--Gandhi

Eating Disorders

About one in 35 American adults has a binge eating disorder.

Eating disorders

Eating disorders are conditions that involve abnormal eating habits that can range from insufficient to excessive food intake. According to the Binge Eating Disorder Association, one in 35 Americans has an eating disorder.

While the exact cause of most major disorders is poorly understood, most studies suggest that social factors such as peer pressure, family up-bringing and idealized body-types are strong precursors.

The two most common eating disorders are:

  • Bulimia Nervosa

  • Anorexia Nervosa

    The following information is taken ad verbatim from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 4th Edition (DSM-IV):

    Bulimia Nervosa

    Bulimia is an eating disorder that is characterized by both of the following:

    • Eating

    In a discrete period of time (e.g., within any 2-hour period), an amount of food that is definitely larger than most people would eat during a similar period of time and under similar circumstances.

    • Lack of control

    A sense of lack of control over eating during the episode (e.g., a feeling that one cannot stop eating or control what or how much one is eating).

      Other symptoms include:

      Recurrent inappropriate compensatory behavior in order to prevent weight gain, such as self-induced vomiting; misuse of laxatives, diuretics, enemas, or other medications; fasting; or excessive exercise.

      The binge eating and inappropriate compensatory behaviors both occur, on average, at least twice a week for 3 months.

      Self-evaluation is unduly influenced by body shape and weight.

      The disturbance does not occur exclusively during episodes of Anorexia Nervosa.

        Specific type:

        • Purging Type: during the current episode of Bulimia Nervosa, the person has regularly engaged in self-induced vomiting or the misuse of laxatives, diuretics, or enemas.
        • Non-purging Type: during this current episodes of Bulimia Nervosa, the person has used other inappropriate compensatory behaviors, such as fasting or excessive exercise, but has not regularly engaged in self-induced vomiting or the misuse of laxatives, diuretics, or enemas.

        Anorexia Nervosa

        This condition is characterized by:

          • Weight Loss

          Refusal to maintain body weight at or above a minimally normal weight for age and height (e.g., weight loss leading to maintenance of body weight less than 85% of that expected; or failure to make expected weight gain during period of growth, leadin gto body weight less than 85% of that expected).

          • Fear

          Intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat, even though underweight.

          Other symptoms include:

            Disturbance in the way in which one's body weight or shape is experienced, undue influence of body weight or shape on self-evaluation, or denial of he seriousness of the current low body weight.

              In postmenarcheal females, amenorrhea, i.e., the absence of at least three consecutive menstrual cycles. (A woman is considered to have amenorrhea if her periods occur only following hormone, e.g., estrogent, administration.)

              According to the National Institute of Mental Health, other symptoms might develop over time:

              • Thinning of the bones

              • Brittle hair and nails

              • Dry and yellowish skin

              • Growth of fine hair over body (e.g., lanugo)

                • Specific type:

                  • Restrictive Type: during the current episode of Anorexia Nervosa, the person has not regularly engaged in binge-eating or purging behavior (i.e., self-induced vomiting or the misuse of laxatives, diuretics, or enemas)
                  • Binge-Eating/Purging Type: during the current episode of Anorexia Nervosa, the person has regularly engaged in binge-eating or purging behavior (i.e., self-induced vomiting or the misuse of laxatives, diuretics, or enemas).

                  Special Note

                  Survivors of Anorexia and Bulimia benefit from extensive cognitive-behavioral therapy, group therapy, and support groups.

                  A medical evaluation would be the first priority for the treatment of Anorexia. In most cases, hospitalization is necessary to help stabilize their weight to a less critical level.

                  If you know someone who has Bulimia or Anorexia Nervosa, please contact the National Eating Disorder Association: 1-800-931-2237

                      Related Topics

                      For more information, please visit the following links:

                      • How Are Working to Understand and Treat Eating Disorders?

                      • What medical complications and long-term effects can bulimia have?


                        • Citations

                          American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, fourth edition. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association, 1994

                          Barabasz M "Efficacy of hypnotherapy in the treatment of eating disorders". The International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 2007; 55 (3): 31835. Retrieved 9-10-2010 from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17558721

                          Manning, Y., & Murphy, B. An introduction to anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Nursing Standard, 2003; 18.14-16, 45.

                          Walsh JM, Wheat ME, Freund K. "Detection, evaluation, and treatment of eating disorders the role of the primary care physician". Journal of General Internal Medicine 15, 2000; (8): 57790.


                          Updated: May 5, 2012

                          Article created: September 10, 2010

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