Three of the most common eating disorders are Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating Disorder. However, ‘other specified feeding or eating disorder’ (OSFED) is the most common eating disorder diagnosis, with anorexia being the least common eating disorder. Eating disorders are 7 to 10 times more commonly diagnosed in women than men, but more men are seeking help for eating disorders than ever before.
A diagnosis of OFSED is given if symptoms do not fit the criteria of anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder.
Anorexia can be a dangerous condition leading to serious health complications and even death. The main signs and symptoms include restricting intake of calories, exercising more and/or using laxatives or other medication to help with weight loss. People with anorexia will excessively worry about their weight, and may be unable to stop losing weight even when they are below a safe weight.
Bulimia includes excessive worry about weight, with people engaging in regular binge eating episodes, followed by vomiting and/or use of laxatives. People with bulimia will often feel guilty about their eating patterns, but their weight often remains within the normal range. This means that they are often able to hide their condition for many years, but the constant purging can have an adverse effect on general health, including damaged teeth and digestive issues.
Binge eating disorder often goes undiagnosed but it can have an adverse impact on people’s physical and psychological wellbeing. It involves engaging in uncontrollable binge eating episodes, but does not involve regular vomiting or use of medications. It can be very distressing and people who suffer from binge eating disorder are often overweight.
Due to the physical impact of eating disorders, getting a physical health check may be appropriate. Psychological therapy, such as CBT or Interpersonal Therapy, or counselling, can be helpful in understanding how the problem started and how someone can manage their symptoms. Advice about healthy eating from a dietitian can also be beneficial. Some people with anorexia may require hospital treatment if their weight reaches a dangerously low level.