Eating disorders are characterized by significant disturbances in eating behavior and related thoughts and emotions. Individuals with eating disorders may have a distorted perception of their body shape and weight and may take extreme measures, such as starving or purging, to control their weight. Currently, eating disorders fall into three categories.
- Anorexia Nervosa is characterized by an inability to maintain the minimum normal weight for age and height. Individuals with anorexia may refuse to eat enough, exercise obsessively, or vomit or take laxatives to lose weight. Anorexics often deny the seriousness of their low weight, even though it may be life-threatening.
- Bulimia Nervosa is characterized by recurrent episodes of compulsive binge eating followed by compensatory behavior, such as self-induced vomiting, use of laxatives, strict dieting, fasting, or vigorous exercise. Most bulimics binge and purge secretly and do not experience dramatic weight loss, concealing their behavior from those closest to them.
- Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified are eating disorders such as purging disorder or night eating syndrome that do not meet the full criteria for anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa. Over 60% of patients diagnosed with an eating disorder fall into this category. Eating disorder researchers are working on redistributing the criteria for these eating disorders into more clinically useful diagnostic categories.
Psychotherapy can help individuals with eating disorders understand the thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that trigger the abnormal eating behavior. Some medications have also proven effective. Because of the serious physical problems caused by these illnesses, it is important that any treatment plan include general medical care and nutritional counseling.
Books on Bulimia, Anorexia, and Other Eating Disorders
American Psychiatric Publishing (APPI), a division of American Psychiatric Association, publishes textbooks on the latest research and treatment approaches for patients struggling with eating disorders and frequently co-occurring mood and anxiety disorders.
View a complete list of publications related to eating disorders