Wadsworth Psychiatric Services

Eating Disorders

Eating Disorders

An eating disorder is a mental disorder where someone is defined as having abnormal eating habits.  These eating habits negatively affect a person’s physical or mental health, while placing them at a very high risk for heart problems. Anxiety, depression, and substance abuse are common co-occurring conditions with eating disorders. There are various types of eating disorders.

Types of Eating Disorders:

  • Bulimia Nervosa – binge eating disorder where people eat large amounts of food in a short period of time then try to rid themselves of the food with or without vomiting
  • Anorexia Nervosa – when a person eats very little and thus has very low body weight
  • Binge Eating Disorder – variant of bulimia nervosa with occasional, once a week, binge eating
  • Pica – eating non-nutritional substances
  • Rumination Disorder – repeated regurgitation of food usually beginning in infancy or childhood
  • Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder – lack of interest in food or eating which result in failure to thrive

The prevalence of eating disorders is nearly ten times more common in females than in males, Eating disorders most often begin in late childhood to early adulthood. There are many risk factors for having an eating disorder (i.e. genetics, abuse, social isolation, peer pressure, and cultural pressure).

Clinical Symptoms may Include:

  • Abnormal eating habits
  • Excessive physical activity
  • Use of laxatives and Vomiting
  • Loss of teeth
  • Acne
  • Pre-occupied with body image
  • Extremely underweight
  • Menstrual cycle stops
  • Suicidal thoughts

Diagnosis and Treatment:

  • Initial diagnosis should be done by your medical provider while ruling out underlying medical conditions which may be the cause of the symptoms
  • Inpatient hospital stays are sometimes necessary for stabilization of health concerns
  • Psychoanalysis and medications may be used to help with associated symptoms, while Individual psychotherapy and family psychotherapy may be necessary as well
  • Early identification of an eating disorder can promote effective treatment before permanent damage is done


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