An eating disorder is marked by extremes. Persons with eating disorders experience an extreme reduction in food intake or extreme overeating. They feel very distressed by their body weight or shape.
The two main types of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.
Eating disorders frequently appear during adolescence or young adulthood. Women and girls are much more likely to develop an eating disorder. Eating disorders are real, treatable medical illnesses with complex underlying psychological and biological causes. They frequently co-exist with other psychiatric disorders such as depression, substance use or anxiety disorders. People with eating disorders can also suffer from other physical health complications, such as heart conditions or kidney failure, which can lead to death.
Eating disorders can be difficult to manage or overcome by yourself. You may think about food all the time, spending hours thinking about what to eat and exercise until you’re exhausted. You may feel sad, hopeless, ashamed, irritable or anxious. If you have any of these problems, seek medical attention.
If you have a loved one you’re worried about, urge him or her to talk to a doctor. Even if your loved one isn’t ready to admit there is a problem, you may be able to open the door by expressing concern. Remember, treatment is available.