More than once, I've heard girls look toward a thin individual nearby and whisper: "She's so anorexic." What they mean is that she is skinny but contrary to what's widely believed, anorexia does not equate to thin. Furthermore, anorexia and bulimia aren't the only eating disorders out there. Are you intrigued yet? Keep reading!
The most recent Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), published by the American Psychiatric Association, recognizes five main categories of eating disorders:
1. Anorexia Nervosa- this is the eating disorder I have struggled with and it also has the highest mortality rate of all mental illnesses- that includes depression. (Read my story HERE) The DSM-5 criteria notes that along with a significantly low body weight (for that individual), there is an "intense fear) of gaining weight or becoming fat. Body dysmorphia, or not seeing the body correctly, goes along with this. Major healthy complications include amenorrhea, slow heart rate, muscle loss, memory loss and osteoporosis. (RELATED: Am I Beautiful?)
2. Bulimia Nervosa- Bulimia is characterized by binging (eating an excessive amount of food) and purging (getting rid of that food). In addition, the DSM-5 says that there is a feeling of being out of control during the binging episodes. Major health complications include dehydration, GI issues, chronic kidney problems and heart problems.
3. Binge Eating Disorder- BED is characterized by the recurring episodes of eating large quantities of food in a short amount of time. As with bulimia, these episodes are marked by feelings of lack of control. This eating disorder is actually the most common in the U.S. In fact, 30% to 40% of people seeking weight loss treatments can be clinically diagnosed with BED (Alliance for Eating Disorder Awareness).
4. Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder- This category is the most common diagnosis and includes the eating disorders that don't necessarily fall into one of the three categories above. These include atypical anorexia nervosa (significant weight loss is still present but the individual is not below a healthy weight range) and bulimia nervosa in which the episodes occur less frequently. There is also purging disorder, which is the act of getting rid of food without any episodes of binging. Night eating disorder is another one in this category and involves excessive food consumption in the evening that are not explained by a disruption in the sleep cycle or social norms.
5. Unspecified Feeding or Eating Disorder- This category applies to situations where behaviors cause distress and impair normal functioning, but do not fully meet the other criteria.
Clearly, eating disorders are more than just restricting food or throwing it up. Rather, there are many different types that just haven't been widely recognized until now. However, the more we are able to recognize them: The better equipped we will be to halt, treat and prevent them in the future. Additionally, if any of these descriptions hits home for you or someone you know, please seek help immediately. If you've read my own story, you know how dangerous eating disorders can be. (RELATED: What You Can Do to Stop Eating Disorders) They are nothing to mess around with and "wait out." Please seek medical help and if you need to talk to anyone: I would love to offer any help I can. I am so glad when people reach out to me for advice for either themselves or a loved one. It shows that God can, and is, redeeming the pain in my life.
NEDA Awareness Week Post #1 HERE
NEDA Awareness Week Post #2 HERE
NEDA Awareness Week Post #3 HERE