Conditions InDepth: Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are serious problems in the way you eat. This involves eating too little or too much food in an extreme way. Doing this also causes guilt and shame. People with eating disorders are overly worried about their weight and body image.

The main types are:

  • Anorexia
  • Bulimia
  • Binge eating disorder (BED)

These problems often start during the teen or early adult years. But, they can happen at any age. They are most common in females, but they happen in males as well.

People with eating disorders also can have other mental health problems such as depression or anxiety.

Having an eating disorder can lead to major health problems. These can involve the heart, kidneys, and bones. They also upset your body chemistry.


People with anorexia are afraid of gaining weight or getting fat. This happens even if they’re underweight. Dieting and weight loss become an obsession. If left untreated, it can lead to death.


This also causes worry with weight and how you look. Bulimia causes you to eat large amounts of food. This is called bingeing. It’s then followed by purging. This is forced vomiting or using laxatives to rid the body of the food. Diuretics, dieting, or exercise may also be used to purge the body after bingeing.


BED is eating large amounts of food within a short time frame. This mainly happens within 2 hours. Binge eating can cause feelings of shame, guilt, or disgust.

During binge eating, you feel a lack of control over your eating. It’s common for people with BED to gain weight. This is because they don’t purge it afterwards. Over time, you may have too much for your age and height.



About eating disorders. National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed September 5, 2018.
Anorexia nervosa. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: . Updated June 15, 2017. Accessed September 5, 2018.
Binge eating disorder. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed... . Updated June 15, 2017. Accessed September 5, 2018.
Bulimia nervosa. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: . Updated July 16, 2018. Accessed September 5, 2018.
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). American Psychiatric Association; 2013.
Eating disorders: About more than food. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: Updated 2018. Accessed September 5, 2018.
Last reviewed May 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrian Preda, MD