Psychiatry

Eating Disorders: What is Anorexia Nervosa?

Anorexia nervosa is the restriction of energy intake relative to requirements that lead to a significant low body weight in the context of age, sex, developmental trajectory and physical health. A significantly low weight in regards to anorexia nervosa is defined as a weight that is less than minimally normal, or, for children and adolescents, less than that is minimally expected.

Individuals with anorexia experience an intense fear of gaining weight or of becoming fat, or they exhibit a persistent behavior that interferes with weight gain, even if they already have a significantly low weight. Additionally, some individuals with anorexia experience a disturbance in the way their body weight or shape is viewed, undue influence of body weight or shape on self-evaluation; or they exhibit a persistent lack of recognition of the seriousness of their current low body weight.

What is Bulimia Nervosa?

Bulimia nervosa is the existence of recurrent inappropriate compensatory behaviors in order to prevent weight gain, such as self-induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives, diuretics or other medications, fasting or excessive exercise. Individuals experiencing bulimia are often unduly influenced by body shape and weight, but bulimia does not occur exclusively during episodes of anorexia nervosa.

Eating in a discrete period of time (within any two-hour period) an amount of food that is larger than what most individuals would eat in a similar period of time under similar circumstances.

Those who experience bulimia can also exhibit a lack of control over eating during episodes, such as a feeling that one cannot stop eating or control what or how much one is eating.

Binge eating occurs, on average, at least once a week for three months. Those who experience binge eating often exhibit distress regarding binge eating. Binge eating is not associated with the recurrent use of inappropriate compensatory behavior as in bulimia nervosa and does not occur exclusively during the course of bulimia nervosa or anorexia nervosa.

Binge Eating Episodes

The 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 feeling embarrassed by how much one is eating
  • Feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed or very guilty after eating