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Eating disorders are treated by Integrative Psych
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Eating disorders are problems that affect a person’s eating behaviors as well as their attitudes and feelings about food — and about their body.

Eating disorders affect a person’s mental health and can cause serious harm to a person’s physical health.

Types of Eating Disorders



People with anorexia:


  • eat very little on purpose, leading to a very low body weight

  • have an intense fear of weight gain and fear looking fat

  • have a distorted body image and see themselves as fat even when they are very thin


People with anorexia are very strict about what and how much they will eat. They may think about food or calories almost all the time.


To lose weight, some people with anorexia fast or exercise too much. Others may use laxatives, diuretics (water pills), or enemas.

Leads to health problems caused by undernutrition and low body weight, such as:


  • low blood pressure

  • slow or irregular heartbeats

  • feeling tired, weak, dizzy, or faint

  • constipation and bloating

  • irregular periods

  • weak bones

  • delayed puberty and slow growth


People with anorexia may find it hard to focus and have trouble remembering things. Mood changes and emotional problems include:


  • feeling alone, sad, or depressed

  • anxiety and fears about gaining weight

  • thoughts of hurting themselves



People with bulimia:

  • overeat and feel out of control to stop, called binge eating

  • do things to make up for overeating, such as:

  • make themselves throw up on purpose after overeating, called purging

  • use laxatives, diuretics, weight loss pills, fast, or exercise a lot to prevent weight gain

  • judge themselves based on body shape and weight

People with bulimia eat much more (during a set period of time) than most people would. If a person regularly binges and purges, it may be a sign of bulimia. Unlike people with anorexia who are very low weight, people with bulimia may be thin, average weight, or overweight. People with bulimia often hide their eating and purging from others.

Leads to health problems caused by vomiting, laxatives, and diuretics, such as:

  • low blood pressure

  • irregular heartbeats

  • feeling tired, weak, dizzy, or faint

  • blood in vomit or stool (poop)

  • tooth erosion and cavities

  • swollen cheeks (salivary glands)

People with bulimia may have these emotional problems:

  • low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression

  • alcohol or drug problems

  • thoughts of hurting themselves

People with binge eating disorder:

  • overeat and feel out of control to stop

  • eat large amounts even when they are not hungry

  • may feel upset or guilty after binge eating

  • often gain weight and may become very overweight

Many people with binge eating disorder eat faster than normal. They may eat alone so others don't see how much they are eating. Unlike people with bulimia, those with binge eating disorder do not make themselves throw up, use laxatives, or exercise a lot to make up for binge eating. If a person binge eats at least once a week for 3 months, it may be a sign of binge eating disorder.


Leads to weight-related health problems, such as:

  • diabetes

  • high blood pressure

  • high cholesterol and triglycerides

  • fatty liver

  • sleep apnea

People with binge eating disorder may:

  • have low self-esteem, anxiety, or depression

  • feel alone, out of control, angry, or helpless

  • have trouble coping with strong emotions or stressful events

People with avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder:

  • are not interested in food or avoid foods

  • lose weight, or don't gain expected amount of weight

  • are not afraid of gaining weight

  • don't have a poor body image

People with ARFID don't eat because they are turned off by the smell, taste, texture, or color of food. They may be afraid that they will choke or vomit. They don't have anorexia, bulimia, or another medical problem that would explain their eating behaviors.


Leads to health problems that stem from poor nutrition, similar to anorexia. People with ARFID may:

  • not get enough vitamins, minerals, and protein

  • need tube feeding and nutrition supplements

  • grow poorly

People with ARFID are more likely to have:

Understanding Eating Disorders

signs of an eating disorder

Mental and behavioral signs:

  • dramatic weight loss

  • concern about eating in public

  • preoccupation with weight, food, calories, fat grams, or dieting

  • complaints of constipation, cold intolerance, abdominal pain, lethargy, or excess energy

  • excuses to avoid mealtime

  • intense fear of weight gain or being “fat”

  • dressing in layers to hide weight loss or stay warm

  • severely limiting and restricting the amount and types of food consumed

  • refusing to eat certain foods

  • denying feeling hungry

  • expressing a need to “burn off” calories

  • repeatedly weighing oneself

  • patterns of binge eating and purging

  • developing rituals around food

  • excessively exercising

  • cooking meals for others without eating

  • missing menstrual periods (in people who would typically menstruate)

signs of an eating disorder

Image by Jairo Alzate

Physical signs:

  • stomach cramps and other gastrointestinal symptoms

  • difficulty concentrating

  • atypical lab test results (anemia, low thyroid levels, low hormone levels, low potassium, low blood cell counts, slow heart rate)

  • dizziness

  • fainting

  • feeling cold all the time

  • sleep irregularities

  • menstrual irregularities

  • calluses across the tops of the finger joints (a sign of inducing vomiting)

  • dry skin

  • dry, thin nails

  • thinning hair

  • muscle weakness

  • poor wound healing

  • poor immune system function

If you think you have an eating disorder

Speak to someone. 

Tell someone you trust. Let them know what you're going through. A support system is important for your recovery.

Get help early. 

When an eating disorder is caught early, a person has a better chance of recovery. Make an appointment with your doctor or reach out to us.

Go to all your appointments.

Treatment will be effective but it takes dedication, time and effort. Educate yourself on the disorder, find support groups. Ask questions any time you have them.

Be patient with yourself.

There's so much to learn, and change happens a little at a time.


Take care of yourself and be with people who support you.

Treatment Options


Psychotherapy: also called "talk therapy" and means psychological counseling.

Typical psychotherapy involves working with a professional therapist, nurse practitioner, psychologist or psychiatrist.

CBT: Cognitive Behavior Therapy 
For pediatric eating disorders: Family-Based Treatment



Medication may be prescribed to patients in order to relieve symptoms.

Antidepressants: The SSRI fluoxetine (Prozac) has been shown to be effective to treat bulimia. 
Sometimes anti-anxiety medication is used.

Nutritional Counseling:

Weight restoration monitoring
Learning healthy food choices 

People handle stress, insecurity and other feelings in different ways. Sometimes it may seem the only way to control your life is to control your eating. If you or a friend has an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia, it is a good idea to talk to someone now.

You can talk to the people at NYC Well by calling 888-NYC-WELL (888-692-9355) free of charge 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All calls are confidential.

Additional Resources

       The Helpline 630-577-1330 or 1-800-931-2237 is open Monday – Friday. 9 AM – 5 PM Central     

       Time; or email:

       Helpline: 800-931-2237 or NEDA español

       Inspiring stories of teens living with depression, eating disorders, body image, bullying, stress,

       conflict, drugs and alcohol and how they cope.

       Information from TeensHealth in English and Spanish.

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