What Are Eating Disorders?

Eating disorders are psychological conditions with both emotional and physical symptoms. The disorders include anorexia nervosa (voluntary starvation), bulimia nervosa (binge-eating followed by purging), binge-eating disorder (binge-eating without purging) and unspecified eating disorders (disordered eating that does not fit into anther category). Eating disorders occur frequently—but not exclusively—in affluent cultures. A disproportionate number of those diagnosed are young women in their teens and 20s but anyone, including young men and older adults, can develop an eating disorder at any age. Among the most baffling of conditions, eating disorders take on a life of their own so that eating, or not eating, becomes the focus of everyday existence.

Biological factors, social pressure, and family history and dynamics are some of the factors associated with eating disorders. Culturally mediated body-image concerns and personality traits like perfectionism and obsessiveness also play a large role in eating disorders, which are often accompanied by depression and/or anxiety.

Treatment is never simple for these conditions which, in many cases, can cause multiple medical problems and even be acutely life-threatening, requiring hospitalization and forced nourishment. It can take a multi-disciplinary team of of health professional, including a psychotherapist, medical doctor and a specialized dietitian or nutritionist to bring someone with an eating disorder to full recovery.

Find a Treatment Center here.

Recent posts on Eating Disorders

Is Your Teen Addicted to Dieting? Try a Social Media Fast

By Joy Jacobs J.D., Ph.D. on August 16, 2017 in One More Bite
Why a social media fast might be an essential tool for eating disorder recovery.

Fit or Fat, Fat but Fit, or Big Fat Lies

By Kari Anderson DBH, CEDS on August 16, 2017 in #BeHerNow
Another study suggests we can’t be fat and fit. An eating behavior therapist discusses what we really know.

Cause and Cure of Eating Disorders?

How the language of Eating Disorders has changed. Understanding causation and recovery has shifted. Options and Opportunities for greater understanding

Unusual Ways to Lose Weight

Losing weight isn't always healthy. Beware: Here are ten things that will make the weight come off.

Three Things I Know for Sure

By Alexis Conason Psy.D. on August 14, 2017 in Eating Mindfully
Oprah says Weight Watchers is mindful eating and weight loss is the only path to health. Here are three things I know for sure about health, weight, dieting, and mindful eating.

Loving a Broken Body

By Billi Gordon Ph.D. on August 13, 2017 in Obesely Speaking
I lost 290 pounds in six months by giving up rage, anger, humiliation, and suffering.

The Molecules of a Pandemic

By Billi Gordon Ph.D. on August 12, 2017 in Obesely Speaking
Hormones are the Twitter Feed of your mind, body, soul, and microbiome. You are, you will do, and you will eat what they tweet.

Small Mistakes With Huge Consequences

By Billi Gordon Ph.D. on August 11, 2017 in Obesely Speaking
The honest mistakes of a few are the reason 2.2 billion are overweight.
Edward Abramson, PhD

Yes, It IS Possible to Lose Weight

A recent study shows that weight loss is possible.

Finding Peace in The Anti-Diet Age

By Alexis Conason Psy.D. on August 05, 2017 in Eating Mindfully
The New York Times story "Losing it in the Anti-Diet Age," documents the tension between diet-culture and the anti-diet movement. Perhaps the real question is how to find peace.

Is Thin Beautiful? Looking and Seeing

By Emily T. Troscianko on August 03, 2017 in A Hunger Artist
Part II: What actually happens when you look at thin people, or not-thin people, including yourself, and what can you change?

Is Thin Beautiful?

By Emily T. Troscianko on August 03, 2017 in A Hunger Artist
There are a number of ways thinness can disguise itself as beauty.

Skeletons in the Closet

A review of the new film "To the Bone" reveals some interesting perspectives on eating disorders.

"Cremainlining" Explained

By Mark D. Griffiths Ph.D. on July 25, 2017 in In Excess
Over the last 20 years, there have been stories about individuals that have accidentally or deliberately snorted the ashes of another person. But does 'cremainlining' really exist?

Two Psychiatrists Weigh in on Netflix’s 'To the Bone'

We wish the film’s message had been more clear: Eating disorders are severe, life-threatening illnesses that have the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness.

Responding Wisely to Food Addiction Relapses

When you have an eating addiction, it's not about the food. It's about how you use the food.
Georgios Jakobides [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

What Causes Someone to Develop an Eating Disorder?

Individuals with eating disorders are suffering because of an inadequate attachment with their caregivers.
To The Bone

Chilled...To The Bone

By Joy Jacobs J.D., Ph.D. on July 15, 2017 in One More Bite
Want a therapist's take on this highly publicized eating disorder film?
S.M. Schmitt

Like Mother, Like Daughter?

By S.M. Schmitt on July 13, 2017 in Eat, Write, Love
Why do so many daughters of mothers with anorexia nervosa also develop an eating disorder? Current scientific perspectives are discussed

Four Messages We Wished We Got from the New Wonder Woman

Two body image experts review the new Wonder Woman movie. Here are four critical messages we think the film left out.

How to Overcome Body Shame

By Caitlin Cantor LCSW, CST on July 05, 2017 in Modern Sex
Do you suffer with painful thoughts and feelings about your body? Start practicing new ways of relating to yourself to lessen shame and strengthen compassion for your body.

This Independence Day, Free Yourself from Body Criticism

We are so much more than the sum of our physical parts. This Independence Day, let’s give ourselves a break from the cycle of comparison, and relax in our skin, cellulite and all.

Will "To the Bone" Trigger Eating Disorders?

Netflix did it again, first with their release of 13 Reasons Why and now with their soon to be released To the Bone, raising controversy among mental health professionals.

An App for Recovery from Anorexia

By Emily T. Troscianko on June 27, 2017 in A Hunger Artist
A new idea for an app to provide a structure for recovery from anorexia – without total calorie counts or bodyweight targets.

Acuphagia and Eating Metal

By Mark D. Griffiths Ph.D. on June 27, 2017 in In Excess
There are many reports of pica (the eating of non-nutritive items such as coal, hair and wood). One sub-variant of pica is the eating of metal. But what do we know about it?

The Wound is Where the Light Enters You

By Colleen Long Psy.D. on June 26, 2017 in The Happiness Rx
Dr. Colleen Long has worked with thousands of weight loss surgery patients. Instead of "getting over" the feelings, start by going through them, and stop the yo-yo for good.

Caution, Moms: Your Daughters Are Listening

It’s summer. For millions of women, wearing a bathing suit in public is agonizing. Do we keep beating ourselves up or try something new this year for the sake of our daughters?
ID 60848737 © Sebast1an

Nine Questions to Ask When Choosing a Rehab

If you have a loved one in need of addiction treatment, the time to act is now.

Dove’s Latest Body Positivity Failure

By Renee Engeln Ph.D. on June 15, 2017 in Beauty Sick
If Dove’s bottles could speak, they’d blend right into the chorus of voices encouraging women to take an objectified perspective on their own bodies.