Authored by JoannaRasmuson

Types of Eating Disorders & Getting Help

April 25, 2019 | Family Medicine

Overwhelming thoughts about body image, weight and food are common signs of an eating disorder. If these thoughts interfere with your everyday activities, your happiness and your ability to function on a basic level, it may be time to consider getting support. Many people deal with anxiety, depression, unhappiness, low self-esteem and preoccupation with their weight, but the good news is there are many programs and resources available to those who need extra help.

Types of Eating Disorders

There are many misconceptions about eating disorders, and it’s important to distinguish which disorder you are struggling with to get the best help for your unique situation. Some of the most common eating disorders are:

  • Anorexia Nervosa: People with anorexia deliberately don’t take in enough calories through food, which decreases their body weight. They may also show extreme anxiety about gaining weight.
  • Bulimia Nervosa: This condition is characterized by overeating—also called binging—and then overcompensating what they ate with excessive exercise, vomiting, medication, laxatives or other diuretics, which are drugs that cause frequent urination. This process is called purging.
  • Binge Eating Disorder: Those with binge eating disorder feel a loss of control when it comes to how much food they consume. They often eat a lot of food in a short amount of time, eat even when they aren’t hungry, eat until they are uncomfortably full, eat rapidly, eat alone because of embarrassment or feel shame about how they eat.
  • Pica: This disorder involves eating things that aren’t typically considered food and don’t have any nutritional value, such as hair, clay, dirt or cotton.
  • Rumination Disorder: People with rumination disorder purposefully and repeatedly regurgitate food (i.e., bringing up swallowed food back into the mouth). They then re-chew, spit out or re-swallow the regurgitated food.
  • Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder: Previously called “selective eating disorder,” this condition involves limiting the amount or types of food you eat without an obsession about weight or body image. This disturbance in eating habits often leads to the inability to meet energy or nutritional needs, dependence on dietary supplements or extreme weight loss.

Eating disorders are about more than food. Many people deal with these conditions because they lack control in other areas of their lives and turn to food to deal with those complicated emotions. Other factors including mental health conditions, family history, psychological problems and social stigma also play a role.


Resources for People With Eating Disorders

Because eating disorders are far more complicated than a simple diet change, it’s critical to seek treatment. Some damage caused by eating disorders can be irreversible, so the earlier you get help, the better. There are several different levels of care and treatment options when it comes to eating disorders.

#1. If you do not need daily monitoring and are medically stable, you may benefit from focused outpatient treatment (which means treatment outside a hospital setting). You must also be able to function in normal educational, social or occupational situations and be psychiatrically stable.

#2. If your eating disorder hurts your ability to function properly or if you need daily monitoring of your mental and physical health, you may benefit from a partial hospital stay (which is an intensive, short-term treatment program in a hospital). This helps to control binge eating, fasting, purging or other unhealthy weight loss methods. If your symptoms are more serious, you may need an inpatient hospital stay.

#3. Residential treatments are designed for those who don’t need medical help or respond to other treatments but still experience debilitating psychiatric symptoms.


There are also many types of psychotherapy and support groups to help those with eating disorders. If you or someone you love is in a situation like this, it may be beneficial to see a doctor or other medical professional who can guide you toward recovery.

Seek illness treatment if you have any of the symptoms described above. Your doctor can diagnose vector-borne illness and recommend treatment to restore your quality of life.


Revere Health Orem Family Medicine is devoted to comprehensive healthcare for patients of all ages and providing thorough and timely healthcare for the entire family throughout all stages of life.




“Information by Eating Disorder.” National Eating Disorder Association.


“Eating Disorder Types and Symptoms.” National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders.

The Live Better Team


The Live Better Team

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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.