What are the different types of eating disorder?
Are eating disorders of different types?
What is the difference between the various types of eating disorder?
There are two main types of eating disorder that have been identified – anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. These are commonly referred to as Anorexia and Bulimia. Several variations of these eating disorders do exist and are included by professionals in a separate category. This third category is referred to by professionals as ‘eating disorders not otherwise specified (EDNOS)’. Most of the disorders included here are those that are similar to anorexia and bulimia, but do not exactly fit either of the criteria. Binge-eating disorder is another common eating disorder and comes under this third category. Some research suggests it is the most common form of eating disorder – even more common than Anorexia and Bulimia.
Anorexia – Individuals suffering from Anorexia have a distorted image of their bodies and believe that they are fat even though they may be the exact opposite – even painfully thin. They are on a constant diet, irrespective of how much weight they may loose and still continue to see themselves as fat. They have an irrational fear of becoming fat and may go to any extent in an effort to loose weight or stay thin – even starving themselves. Individuals suffering from Anorexia are underweight with a BMI of below 17.5.
Bulimia – Bulimia is characterized by a destructive cycle of binge eating and purging. Individuals suffering from Bulimia usually first engage in binge or uncontrolled eating in which they may consume huge amounts of food. This is followed by guilt, which makes them take drastic steps to get rid of the excessive calories consumed – like getting themselves to vomit, taking laxatives or even exercising excessively. This is referred to as purging.
Individuals suffering from Bulimia, unlike those suffering from Anorexia, are usually not underweight but are either normal weight or overweight. Whilst they are obsessed and unhappy with their weight and want to lose weight, unlike those suffering from Anorexia, they are unable to control the urge to eat. It this that causes them to binge eat and then purge in an effort to prevent weight gain. While some individuals suffering from Anorexia might purge (categorized as the purging type), what differentiates them is that they do not overeat and then purge to prevent weight gain, but rather they purge to lose weight. Lastly, whilst individuals suffering from Bulimia might not eat in public they do not starve themselves or restrict eating like those suffering from Anorexia; rather they binge eat secretly either at night or in a private place, so that no one sees them.
Binge Eating Disorder – Individuals who have a binge eating disorder engage in compulsive overeating. They consume large amounts of food in a really short period of time and are unable to stop eating even when uncomfortably full. They suffer from a lack of control when it comes to eating. All of us overeat sometimes but individuals who have a binge eating disorder overeat on a regular basis – everyday or night or even a couple of times a day. Despite feeling guilty and ashamed, they are unable to control their eating. Unlike Individuals suffering from Bulimia, they are usually overweight and they do not purge every time they overeat.