Eating disorders affect 16% of the Australian population while Binge Eating is the most common of eating disorders. Adolescents are highly affected with binge eating (84%) and anorexia nervosa (55%).

eating disorders - symptoms, evidence-based treatment options and comorbidity

Most Common Eating Disorders are

  • Bing eating
  • Bulimia Nervosa
  • Anorexia Nervosa
  • Compulsive Over eating

There are other types of eating disorders like Pica (eating of non-nutritive substances) and Night Eating Syndrome etc.

Symptoms of Eating Disorders

We describe the symptoms of each of the eating disorder separately.

Symptoms of Binge Eating according to DSM V

  • Recurrent episodes of binge eating that is defined as an amount of food that is larger than most people would eat in a similar period under similar circumstances accompanied by a sense of lack of control over eating during the episode (These features are important because they distinguish BED from simple overeating).
  • Binge eating episodes are associated with three (or more) of the following:
    • Eating much more rapidly than normal
    • Eating until feeling uncomfortably full
    • Eating large amounts of food when not feeling physically hungry
    • Eating alone because of being embarrassed by how much one is eating
    • Feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed, or very guilty after overeating
    • Marked distress regarding binge eating is present.
    • The binge eating occurs, on average, at least once a week for three months.
    • Absence of regular compensatory behaviours (such as purging) and does not occur exclusively during the course Bulimia Nervosa or Anorexia Nervosa.

Symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa according to DSM V

A person must meet all the current DSM criteria to be diagnosed with anorexia nervosa:

  • Restriction of food intake leading to weight loss or a failure to gain weight resulting in a “significantly low body weight” of what would be expected for someone’s age, sex and height. ​
  • Fear of becoming fat or of gaining weight. ​
  • Have a distorted view of themselves and of their condition. Examples of this might include the person thinking that he or she is overweight when they are actually underweight or believing that they will gain weight from eating one meal. A person with anorexia might also make excuses or deny that there is a problem with being at a low body weight. These thoughts are known to professionals as “distortions.”

Symptoms of Bulimia Nervosa according to DSM V

  • Recurrent episodes of binge eating. An episode of binge eating is characterized by both of the following:
    • Eating, in a discrete period (e.g., within a two-hour period), an amount of food that is larger than what most people would eat during a similar period and under similar circumstances.
    • Lack of control over eating during the episode (e.g., a feeling that you cannot stop eating, or control what or how much you are eating).
  • Recurrent inappropriate compensatory behaviour to prevent weight gain, such as self-induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives, diuretics, or other medications, fasting, or excessive exercise.
  • The binge eating and inappropriate compensatory behaviours both occur, on average, at least once a week for three months.
  • Self-evaluation is unduly influenced by body shape and weight.
  • Binging or purging does not occur exclusively during episodes of behaviour that would be common in those with anorexia nervosa.

Treatment of Eating Disorders approved by the APS

  • Physical Health management
  • Nutritional Advice
  • Mental Health Management
  • CBT
  • Dialectical Behaviour Therapy DBT
  • Family Based Therapy

Duration and Intensity

For those whose health is severely affected by body weight there are hospitals that provide Inpatient Treatment. Its best to consult with your GP whether you are needing inpatient or outpatient treatment.

Comorbidity of Eating Disorders

Eating Disorders largely affect adolescents. It can co-occur with

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