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Eating disorders and their symptoms

Eating Disorders are not just about food. They are real, treatable medical illnesses and frequently coexist with other illnesses such as depression, substance abuse, or anxiety disorders. While they affect both genders, rates among women and girls are 2½ times greater than among men and boys. Eating disorders frequently appear during the adolescence or young adulthood but also may develop during childhood or even later in life. Some symptoms can become life-threatening if a person does not receive treatment. Anorexia, in fact, is associated with the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder. Here’s a list of the main eating disorders recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

Anorexia nervosa, or simply anorexia, is the eating disorder characterized by low body weight and food restrictions. They tend to take extreme measures like vigorous exercise, crash diet, forced puking, and using laxatives to lose weight. Though genetics, sociocultural and biological environment act as a risk factor, the exact cause for anorexia is still unknown.


  • Inadequate food intake.
  • Exaggerated fear of weight gain
  • Obsession with body image
  • Binge eating and then purging or restricting themselves from taking any food (Binge-eating/Purging type and the Restricting Type)

Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by a cycle of binge eating which is then followed by self-induced vomiting to compensate for the binge eating. This recurring binge/purge behavior can damage the digestive system. And create chemical imbalances in the body. Bulimia nervosa is also associated with symptoms of depression.


  • Constant cycles of binging and purging
  • Discoloration of teeth due to the acids in the stomach
  • Avoids social life
  • Injuries on the back of the hand and knuckles from the self-induced vomiting
  • Irrationally conscious about body image

Binge eating disorder (BED) is the eating disorder characterized by repeated intake of large quantities of food which is then followed by experiencing shame and guilt for not having control over their eating. Unlike bulimia, people suffering from BED indulge in binge-eating but do not purge, often causing them to be overweight and obese. Their sense of shame and guilt also induces suicidal tendencies.


  • Frequent consumption of large amount of food.
  • No action is taken to prevent weight gain
  • Guilt and shame after binging
  • Eating when not hungry, to the point of discomfort.

Otherwise Specified Feeding and Eating Disorders:

Night eating syndrome is an eating disorder characterized by the pattern of food intake. People suffering from night eating syndrome wake up frequently in the middle of the night to consume food. Very similar to binge eating, NES is different because it is not necessary that the person has to binge large amount of food every time they wake up to eat.


  • Waking up constantly in the middle of the night to eat
  • Believes that eating will help soothe the delayed circadian pattern
  • Loss of appetite in the morning
  • Difficulty in sleeping
  • Depressed mood

Purging disorder is characterized by constant purging to control weight. Purging is very complicated because unlike anorexia and bulimia, those with purge are neither underweight nor is the purging a compensatory behavior for binge-eating.


  • Exaggerated obsession with body image and weight
  • Frequent use of laxatives
  • Discoloration of the enamel
  • Frequent trips to the bathroom after a meal

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