Eating Disorders Articles

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Read on for information about binge eating disorder and treatment options.

A reported 10 million women and 1 million men struggle with eating disorders according to the National Eating Disorder Foundation estimates. It is common that these disorders negatively impact a person's mental or physical health, but the cause of many eating disorders is not clear. In some instances, biological and environmental components may play a part. Below we'll review some of the most common eating disorders, how to treat them, and what treatments can be the most effective in addressing them.

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Medically Reviewed By: Aaron Horn, LMFT, MA

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are just one type of mental health condition that can present in a variety of ways and impact people to varying degrees. They can have grievous physical consequences and symptoms and can affect people of all ages, sizes, sexes, genders, religions, classes, and ethnicities. According to NEDA, it’s estimated that over 30 million people in the United States alone will struggle with an eating disorder at some point in their lives. Common types of eating disorders include anorexia, binge eating, and bulimia, but many other types of disordered eating patterns exist. Left unaddressed, eating disorders can become life-threatening, which is why it can be vital to recognize when support and treatment are necessary. If you are living with, at risk of, or know someone with an eating disorder, becoming educated about them can help you get the support you or a loved one needs. 

Types Of Eating Disorders

There are many different kinds of eating disorders. Each has its own unique signs, symptoms, and potential treatment options. 

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa, like all eating disorders, can affect anyone. The age of onset can occur at any point in a person’s life, and it is one of the deadliest psychiatric illnesses. Symptoms of anorexia nervosa include food restriction, weight loss, excessive or compulsive exercise, and hiding or hoarding food. A person does not need to be thin to develop or have anorexia nervosa: it is a mental illness that does not discriminate. Another potential diagnosis is atypical anorexia nervosa. This disorder is characterized by average or above-average weight while meeting the other criteria of anorexia nervosa.

Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia nervosa is characterized by a cycle of binging and purging. A person with bulimia often compulsively eats, often without enjoying or even tasting the food, and purges through vomiting, exercise, laxative misuse, denying oneself of insulin, and so on. With both anorexia and bulimia, you might see physical symptoms such as brittle nails and thinning hair. Mental health symptoms can include mood swings, secretive behavior, and becoming socially withdrawn or isolated.


ARFID, which stands for Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder, is characterized by inadequate nutritional intake due to highly selective and restrictive food choices. It can be due to a lack of interest in eating food, sensory issues with some foods, or the fear of eating certain meals. The condition is most often seen in children but can persist into adult years and present itself at any age. Failure to meet energy needs due to ARFID can result in severe medical consequences.


BED or Binge Eating Disorder is characterized by recurrent episodes of binge eating that happen at least once a week and last for three months or more. These episodes co-occur with a feeling of being unable to control or stop the episode. Warning signs and symptoms of BED include but are not limited to frequent dieting, secretive behavior, cutting out food groups, depression, feelings of being out of control, and social isolation.

There are other existing forms of eating disorders, and all of them are serious. It is possible to recover from an eating disorder with a stable support system and a treatment plan. If you are struggling with an eating disorder, it can be essential to seek treatment through counseling, talking to a doctor, or attending inpatient or outpatient treatment. If you believe that you are living with an eating disorder, consider consulting with a mental health professional to decide on your next steps.

Online Counseling With BetterHelp

After reading about the different types of eating disorders, you may be concerned that you have one of these conditions. If that’s the case, you don’t have to navigate these symptoms alone, and help is available. If you believe that you might have an eating disorder, you can speak with a licensed online therapist from the comfort of your home. BetterHelp has thousands of qualified therapists who are experienced in a variety of areas, including disordered eating. These professionals understand the causes, symptoms, and treatment of eating disorders and can guide you on the path to recovery. 

Getting the support that you need and deserve could be the click of a button away. You can meet with your therapist through video chats, phone calls, or in-app messaging and schedule sessions according to your availability. This can give you greater control over your therapeutic experience and allow you to heal on your own timeline. 

The Efficacy Of Online Counseling 

Those with eating disorders can learn how to overcome their conditions through online interventions. Researchers have studied the effectiveness of online therapy for the treatment of eating disorders in children, adolescents, and youth. In one study, they found that internet-based therapy reduced symptoms of depression, anxiety, and caregiver burden. They also experienced weight restoration and both patients and caregivers reported satisfaction with the treatment. 

The Takeaway

Eating disorders come with a variety of symptoms and can affect people to different extents. Left untreated, eating disorders can begin to take a toll on your physical and mental health. If you are seeing or experiencing common warning signs of an eating disorder, it can be important to seek support. An online therapist can work with you from the privacy of your home to come up with solutions to help you heal. You don’t have to learn how to recover on your own; help is available. 


The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
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