An eating disorder is a severe condition related to eating habits that negatively affects your health, emotions and ability to function. The three most common types of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder. These conditions tend to appear when someone is hyper-focused on their body weight, shape or consumption habits. When someone develops one of these disorders, it can affect several aspects of your health, including the heart, bones, mouth and digestive system. The habits associated with eating disorders tend to appear in adolescence but can also occur later in adulthood. However, if treated early enough, the harmful effects of eating disorders can be reversed before significant damage is done to the body. Read on to learn about the different types of eating disorders and how they are treated.  

What Are the Different Types of Eating Disorders?

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia Nervosa is most commonly called anorexia. This condition is a potentially life-threatening disorder that most often causes low body weight, fear of gaining weight, or a severely distorted self-image. Someone with anorexia will drastically change their diet and limit calorie intake to reduce their body weight, which often results in health risks. 

Bulimia Nervosa 

Bulimia Nervosa, or bulimia, is another eating disorder that limits eating during the day, binge eating and later purging. People with bulimia will often feel a lack of control over their eating and consume large amounts of food quickly, resulting in extreme guilt. In addition, bulimia often shows signs of purging, including calluses and cuts on the back of hands, reduced enamel, the use of laxatives or over-exercise. 

Binge-Eating Disorder 

Someone with a binge eating disorder feels a lack of control over their eating. They tend to overeat, eat quickly and continue to eat even after they feel full. Episodes of binging are typically followed by immense guilt and shame. Unlike bulimia, this shame is usually followed by another binge episode instead of purging or overexerting. 

Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder 

Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (AFRID) is a condition that causes someone to fail to meet their daily caloric needs. Someone with this condition does not have an interest in food and is sensitive to specific tastes, smells, textures or colors. Someone with this condition might also experience a fear of choking but not of gaining weight. 

How Do You Recognize Eating Disorders? 

Recognizing an eating disorder can be difficult whether you’re assessing yourself or someone else. These conditions present both internal and external signs of distress. These symptoms are also characteristic of other conditions or general shifts in mood or physical health, so it is essential to be gentle and cautious of how you confront these issues personally or with someone else. 

What are the Internal Signs? 

Eating disorders tend to present just as many internal symptoms as external. Someone suffering from an eating disorder might experience the following internal signs:

  • Obsessive concern for amount, frequency and type of food being consumed
  • Removal of food types from a diet like sugar or carbohydrates
  • Discomfort eating in public 
  • Food rituals like a dislike for foods to touch or excessive chewing
  • Withdrawal from friends, family or everyday activity
  • Mood swings
  • Obsessive checks for perceived flaws in appearance
  • Perceived need to skip meals 
  • The guilt associated with eating certain foods
  • Difficulty concentrating

What are the External Signs?

Apparent signs of eating disorders are rapid or excessive weight loss or gain. However, there are external signs and symptoms that you may not know to look for that can signal emotional and physical distress, including: 

  • Stomach cramps and acid reflux
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Anemia or strange lab results 
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting 
  • Feeling cold more frequently than normal
  • Sleep issues
  • Enamel erosion 
  • Dry hair, skin and nails 
  • Fine hair on the body
  • Muscle weakness
  • Impaired immunity

When Should You Seek Help?

If you or someone you love shows signs of an eating disorder, you should seek help immediately. Eating disorders tend to grow over time, harming your health and emotional state. Seeking help early can reduce the risk of an eating disorder taking over your everyday life and prevent further damage to your health. There is no shame in getting help.

How Are Eating Disorders Treated?

Much like every person, each eating disorder is very different. They are an entanglement of mental and physical health. If you seek treatment for an eating disorder, your treatment may include therapy, medication, or depending on severity, hospitalization. Your doctor will note your signs and habits and help you form a treatment plan that is best for you and your needs. 

We Can Help You With Your Mental Health | Seneca Health Services 

We provide a holistic approach to substance use and mental health treatment at Seneca Health Services. Our professional staff of psychiatrists, physician extenders, psychologists, therapists, nurses, case managers and other professional staff are dedicated to improving our patients’ health. People come to us for mental health assistance for many reasons, including anxiety, behavioral problems, personal tragedy, depression, difficulty dealing with stress, substance use disorders and more. 

At Seneca Health Services, we personalize our patients’ care so they receive adequate treatment. We listen and will not provide any more or any less than what you need. We also respect diversity and offer specialized services to address the needs of our patients. Seneca Health Services is always here for you whenever you are ready. 

If you need help or have questions about mental health treatment, please do not hesitate to contact the Seneca office nearest you or use the link provided here.

Greenbrier County, West Virginia: (304) 497-0500

Nicholas County, West Virginia: (304) 872-2659

Pocahontas County, West Virginia: (304) 799-6865

Webster County, West Virginia: (304) 847-5425