If you have this disorder, you see yourself as overweight even though you are dangerously thin. The process of eating becomes an obsession. You develop unusual eating habits, such as avoiding food and meals, picking out a few foods and eating these in small quantities, or carefully weighing and portioning food. You may repeatedly check your body weight and engage in other techniques to control your weight, such as intense and compulsive exercise or purging. Purging can be done by vomiting or by abusing laxatives, enemas, and diuretics. Girls with anorexia often experience a delayed onset of their first menstrual period.
Symptoms of anorexia nervosa may include:
The course and outcome of anorexia nervosa varies among people. Some recover fully after a single episode, some have a fluctuating pattern of weight gain and relapse, and others experience a chronically deteriorating course of illness over many years.
In bulimia, binge eating episodes are followed by purging or exercise. Therefore, you may weigh within the normal range for your age and height. However, like individuals with anorexia, you may fear gaining weight, desire to lose weight, and feel intensely dissatisfied with your body. You may binge and purge in secrecy, feeling disgusted and ashamed when you binge, yet relieved once you purge.
Behavioral symptoms include:
Physical symptoms include:
Bulimia can lead to other problems including:
Symptoms of these complications include:
Binge Eating Disorder
If you have binge eating disorder, you experience frequent episodes of out-of-control eating, with the same binge eating symptoms as those with bulimia. The main difference is that you do not purge. Therefore, you may be overweight for your age and height. Feelings of self-disgust and shame associated with this illness can lead to recurrent binging.
Eating disorders: facts about eating disorders and the search for solutions. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/publicat/eatingdisorders.cfm . Accessed April 8, 2007.
Eating disorders information index. National Eating Disorders Association. Available at: http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/information-resources/ . Accessed November 24, 2010.
National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders website. Available at: http://www.anad.org .
National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/ .
Yager J, Devlin MJ, Halmi KA, et al. Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Patients with Eating Disorders. 3rd ed. American Psychiatric Association website. Available at: http://www.psych.o... . Accessed April 12, 2007.
Last reviewed October 2012 by Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 10/11/2012