Types of Eating Disorders

Types of Eating Disorders

Despite some common misconceptions, the various types of eating disorders are about more than “just food.” Eating disorders are a group of mental illnesses that cause serious emotional and physical symptoms. These complex mental health conditions can take over one’s life and cause harmful health complications. Luckily, with treatment many individuals can find relief from symptoms.

Members of our team at NW Mind-Body Wellness have specialized training in the treatment of eating disorders. If you are struggling with an eating disorder, or fear you might be, we encourage you to fill out one of ourcontact forms to set up an appointment.

The following consists of information on different types of eating disorders, including common symptoms.

Anorexia Nervosa

Individuals with anorexia avoid, severely restrict, or only eat small amounts of food. Those with anorexia are often underweight, but may still seem themselves as overweight. If left untreated, anorexia may cause very dangerous health complications due to low nutrition intake.

Symptoms of anorexia nervosa include:

  • Extremely restricted eating
  • Intense fear of gaining weight
  • Relentless pursuit to lose weight
  • Distorted body image

Bulimia nervosa

Bulimia nervosa causes individuals to engage in a recurrent cycle of binge eating and then may attempt to force themselves to vomit, abuse laxatives, or excessively exercise to “compensate” for the excess calories. This disorder can begin to control many aspects of one’s life, as well as cause serious health effects.

Symptoms bulimia nervosa include:

  • Recurrent episodes of binge eating
  • Feeling a lack of control
  • Preoccupation with one’s own body shape and weight
  • Using laxatives after eating when they’re not needed
  • Forced vomiting in fear of gaining weight
  • Excessive exercise to prevent weight gain

Binge eating disorder

Binge eating disorder (BED) is the most common eating disorder in the United States according to NEDA. Individuals with this condition experience recurrent episodes in which they feel a loss of control over their eating. Unlike with bulimia nervosa, those with BED do not purge or try to compensate in other ways for the calories consumed. As a result of the condition, many individuals with binge-eating disorder are overweight.

Symptoms binge eating disorder include:

  • Eating large amounts of food within a specific time period (i.e. 1 hour)
  • Feeling a lack of control during binge episodes
  • Eating when full
  • Feeling ashamed, guilty, or distressed about eating
  • Eating alone or in secret to avoid embarrassment or judgement


Treatment for the most common types of eating disorders has been proven to be effective for many. There are various ways to treat eating disorders, but treatment plans commonly include a combination of:

  • Psychotherapy (talk therapy)
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Medication