Eating Disorders: Understanding the Different Diagnoses

Florida Psychiatrists

Eating disorders are becoming increasingly common in our society today. These disorders are serious emotional, mental and physical problems that have life threatening consequences for both females and males. To help you understand a little more about eating disorders, we’ve outlined some of the three most common eating disorders.

Anorexia Nervosa

             Anorexia is characterized by inadequate food and caloric intake that leads to the body weight being too low. Weight loss occurs due to excessive dieting and exercising, sometimes to the point of starvation. People with anorexia have an intense fear of weight gain, persistently try to prevent weight gain and obsess over their weight. They see themselves as too fat no matter how thin they really are.

Anorexia can take form in two ways. The first is known as binge-eating/purging where a person will ingest a large amount of food at one time and then purge right after, either by vomiting or using laxatives. The second is known as restricting where a person will simply not ingest the necessary amount of food needed to maintain a healthy body weight.

Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia nervosa is characterized by a habit of purging after ingesting food. People with bulimia are typically a normal weight, unlike those with anorexia. They share the same intense fear of gaining weight and distorted body image, though.

Bulimics will typically hide their behavior and their cycles of heavy binging and purging. A big sign of bulimia is a person disappearing into the bathroom after meals. They often hide wrappers and containers from the large amounts of food they ingest at once. People with bulimia can feel out of control especially during a binge-eating episode.

Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating disorder is different than bulimia or anorexia although both of those disorders might also feature binge-eating habits. Binge eating disorder is characterized by having binging episodes where they ingest large quantities of food. Unlike bulimia or anorexia, this is not followed by a purging session meaning people suffering from this disorder are typically overweight.

Unlike anorexia or bulimia, binge eating disorder is as common in men as it is in women. People who binge eat will eat large quantities at one time, hoard food and may consistently diet without losing weight. Much like those suffering from bulimia, binge eaters feel out of control when a binge is going on.

Consequences of Disorders

All of these eating disorders have life-threatening consequences. Binge eating can lead to obesity and all of the serious health problems related to that. The constant purging that bulimics face can result in abnormal heart rhythms, esophagus bleeding, stomach reflux, dental issues and kidney problems. Anorexia has serious complications such as malnutrition and organ failure.


The good news is that all of these eating disorders are 100% treatable. If you or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder contact help now. These disorders are both mental and physical problems that can be combated with medical and psychiatrist help.

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