8 Common Types of Eating Disorders and their Symptoms


Eating disorders are serious mental health conditions that can have a significant impact on a person’s life. If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, please seek help as soon as possible.

In this article, we’ll be discussing the eight (8) most common eating disorders and their symptoms.

What is Eating disorder?

Eating disorder is a mental disorder that involves abnormal eating habits. It can be moderate or severe, and it can have serious consequences for the individual.

There are several different types of eating disorders, but they all share some common features. They involve an individual’s relationship with food, and they often involve extreme dieting and weight control.

Causes of Eating Disorder

There is no one cause of eating disorders, but there are many factors that can contribute. Some of the causes of eating disorders include genetics, brain function, family history, stress, and culture.

Genetics: Eating disorders are usually familial. Family members of an individual with an eating disorder tend to have higher rates of anorexia nervosa or bulimia than the general population as well as a tendency toward perfectionism. (1)

Brain Function: Eating disorders are linked to certain styles of thinking, such as denial and spreading. Mindfulness techniques can be useful for those coping with eating disorders. (2)

Family History: Families of people with eating disorders have a tendency to have perfectionistic tendencies because they try so hard to please their loved ones.

They usually go along with whatever decision their family members make, which can lead to over-enthusiastic bossiness, checking out of family issues, and denying problems in order for the family to be connected and balanced.

Perfectionism is the major cause behind anorexia nervosa and bulimia.

Stress: Stress is a huge factor in how someone reacts to calories or weight gain, according to Psychology Today . It could be life-threatening conditions or traumatic experiences such as an abusive home environment. (3)

When someone has been abused as a child, that trauma can affect their anxiety initially as well as their physical weight.

Bereavement: Bereavement involves loss of a loved one. It can happen to anyone at any time.

Individuals who are recently bereaved may experience symptoms such as isolation, fear of intercourse, weight loss, alcohol and substance abuse, anorexia, exercise dependence and depression that make it difficult for them to gain/lose weight properly.

They often believe they will never be happy unless they’re thin.

In some cases, an eating disorder is more complicated than this simple explanation.

A person suffering from active eating disorders may have onset following a significant trauma or exposure to other stressful situations (such as sexual abuse).

So people might see their symptoms flare up after the birth of a child or rejection by a new lover.

Some other causes: depression, hyperactivity (hyperthymia), malingering, advertising bingeing/purging as a means to obtain approval/rejection and family dynamics that cause one child to compare themselves negatively to their siblings.

Understanding the different types of eating disorders and their symptoms can help you identify these behaviors in others.

You’ll know what to do and what not to say when interacting with someone you suspect has an eating disorder — or in this case, with someone whose eating is out of control or distressing.

Symptoms of Eating Disorder

The signs and symptoms of Eating disorder are as follows:


  • Very low body weight, (usually occurs in the adolescent)
  • puffy eyelids,
  • Raised shoulders,
  • Lack of sleep all night; an inappropriate amount of stimulants such as coffee morning and evening routine
  • Stress related to personal worries.
  • Loss of appetite,
  • Aggravation by food, other people and/or smells specific foods or additives even during pregnancy. In some cases eliminating food groups such as fat, carbohydrates, spices and sweeteners. Adding others such as desert after meals.


Decreased attention to school work; academic failure or misconduct at school or college levels caused by providing less than an expected effort in studies plus ineffective contribution.

Their academic achievement is reduced from their previous level; often have poor self esteem and may engage in other attention getting behaviours.


  • Sorrow,
  • Sadness,
  • Excessive self pity,
  • Inappropriate crying or weeping for minor or unrelated circumstances which bring no lasting relief to their state of mind.

Some other common symptoms of eating disorders include:
– Hyperactivity or an inability to stay still
– Extreme mood swings (from happy to sad in a matter of minutes)
– Repetitive thoughts about food or eating
– A decrease in appetite or an increase in hunger symptoms
– Constantly feeling guilty or ashamed about one’s weight or body shape
– Worries about being “fat” or “too skinny”

The 8 most common eating disorders


1. Anorexia

Anorexia is a serious eating disorder that affects more than 1 million Americans. It is the most common type of eating disorder, affecting girls and women more than any other sex.

Signs and symptoms of anorexia vary from person to person, but they typically include a shrinking appetite and constant weight monitoring.

People with anorexia may also be restricting their food intake to such a degree that it leads to malnutrition or even death.

Anorexia can be fatal if not properly treated. Early diagnosis and treatment is key to preventing long-term health problems, including heart disease, kidney failure, and low blood pressure.

There are also various treatments available that can help people regain their weight and improve their overall health.

2. Bulimia

Bulimia is a condition characterized by recurring episodes of binge eating and then Purging (vomiting, using laxatives, or beating oneself up).

People with bulimia usually have a distorted view of their body image. They may feel that they are too small, too big, or have some other flaw in their appearance. As a result, they feel compelled to purge their food instead of eating it.

Bulimia can lead to complications such as weight gain, heart disease, and digestive problems. It is also very difficult to get rid of the habit once it starts. If you or someone you know struggles with bulimia, seek help immediately.

There are treatment facilities available that can help you overcome the condition.

3. Pica

One common eating disorder is pica. Pica is the abnormal craving to eat substances that are not normally eaten, like paint, ice, or vacuum cleaner cord.

People with pica usually start by eating small amounts of the strange food. But soon they may begin eating more and more of it.

This can lead to severe health problems, including malnutrition, anemia, weight loss, problems with hygiene, bowel obstruction and other medical complications.

If you think someone you know may be suffering from reflexive pica, talk to them about their symptoms and how you can help them get treatment.

3. Rumination Disorder

It’s when a person re-chews the food they have already swallowed and spits it out or re-swallows it.

The onset time of rumination eating disorder is typically within the first 30 minutes after a meal.

This condition is common in infants. Adults who suffer from it usually require therapy to help them regain or maintain their quality of life.

Rumination disorder can lead to weight loss and fatal malnutrition in a person if not treated.

5. Binge Eating Disorder (BED)

Binge eating disorder is a serious mental health condition that affects up to 1 in 25 people in the United States.

People with binge eating disorder have recurrent intense episodes of overeating (eating more than they intended to eat in a short period of time).

These episodes can cause physical Symptoms such as extreme purging (washing, vomiting, etc.), discomfort or dissatisfaction with one’s body appearance, and decreased performance at work or school.

People with binge eating disorder often start their meals by eating small amounts of food, but then quickly become ravenous and eat large amounts of food. They may also eat until they feel sick or guilty after their binges.

Anyone can be affected by binge eating disorder, regardless of weight or size. It is most common in women and people between the ages of 18 and 25.

6. Orthorexia

Orthorexia is a condition in which people have an eating disorder, but don’t have any body image issues.

They may have an unhealthy obsession with food, and may become restricted in their diet. They may also become obsessed with being precise with the way they eat or exercise.

7. Compulsive Overeating

Compulsive overeating is one of the most common eating disorders. This disorder is characterized by an excessive, uncontrollable urge to eat.

People with compulsive overeating usually consume large amounts of food and calories even though it is harmful to their health.

A person with compulsive overeating may feel a range of emotions, including anxiety, guilt and shame. They may feel like they have no choice but to eat compulsively or that they are unable to stop consuming food even if they want to.

Many people with compulsive overeating struggle with maintaining healthy weight. They may be excessively thin or overweight, but their size does not reflect their actual weight. Compulsive overeaters often struggle to stick to a healthy diet or exercise habits.

One of the most common symptoms of compulsive overeating is weight obsession. This means that sufferers are intensely focused on their body weight and obsessed with reducing or controlling their weight.

They may have a strong desire to be thinner even if it means unhealthy consequences for their health.

If you are concerned that you might have compulsive overeating, talk to your doctor. He or she can help you determine if you have this disorder and provide you with resources to help you.

8. Night Eating Syndrome (NES)

One of the most common eating disorders is Night Eating Syndrome (NES). NES is a disorder in which people eat large amounts of food at night. They may do this even when they are not feeling hungry.

People with NES may feel compelled to eat even when they are notologically awake or cognitively engaged in activities. They may also experience feelings of guilt and shame after eating.

Another common symptom of NES is difficulty resisting sweet foods. People with NES may also have a strong preference for high-calorie foods and drinks.

There is no one single cause of NES. However, it is often caused by an interaction between biological, psychological, and environmental factors. It is usually treatable with therapy and medication.

Who are the people at risk of eating disorder?

There are many people who are at risk of developing an eating disorder. These include people who have a history of mental health issues, people who have low self-esteem, and people who are struggling with their weight.

Types of eating disorder tests

There are several different tests that can be used to diagnosis an eating disorder. Some of the most common tests include:

1. The DSM-5 Eating Disorder Test is a questionnaire that helps to determine if someone has an eating disorder.

It consists of 21 questions, and it is divided into two parts:

The first part measures how much weight the person has lost in the past year and how many calories they consume daily, while the second part asks about unhealthy eating habits.

2. The Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measure of how overweight or thin someone is. It is calculated by dividing a person’s weight by their height squared.

Someone with a BMI of 18 or higher is considered obese, while someone with a BMI of under 18 is considered underweight.

3. The Eating Disorder Examination (EED) is a diagnostic interview that helps to determine if someone has an eating disorder. It covers four main areas: body image, food intake, shape and weight, and sensual dieting.

Eating disorder Treatment

There are a number of different eating disorders, each with its own symptoms. Treatment for an eating disorder typically involves psychotherapy, medication, and/or diet therapy.

Medications: A doctor can recommend medications to help with the treatment of eating disorders by also addressing conditions such as depression and anxiety. Medications are specifically antidepressants, antipsychotics, or mood stabilizers.

Psychotherapy: Eating disorders are often treated with counseling. Therapy can help with identifying the root of the disorder, setting goals and adjusting behaviors so symptoms will subside.

Also, therapy can support a person during times when they may “slip” and begin to deal with their eating disorder again and get stuck in old thought patterns for treating their disorder.

Diet therapy: A dietician can help people with their weight, and find out what they should eat. They can also work to make food a coping mechanism instead of a challenge in life.

Nutritional therapy has been shown to significantly improve treatment outcomes when combined with cognitive therapy.

The link between diet and mental illness

There is a link between diet and mental illness. Eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, are mental illnesses that are caused by a person’s obsessive thoughts about their weight or food consumption.

Eating disorders can have a serious impact on a person’s health. They can cause problems with weight, eating habits, and self-esteem. They can also lead to suicide.

There is evidence to suggest that diet is a factor in the development of mental illnesses. For example, people with anorexia nervosa often have low body weight and high levels of body fat.

This suggests that their obsession with their weight is related to their body image.

The link between diet and mental illness is complex and still not completely understood. However, research into this area is important because it could help to improve the treatment of mental illnesses. (4)

How to help someone with an eating disorder

If you are worried about someone you know who may be struggling with an eating disorder, there are a few things that you can do to help.

1. It’s important to listen to and honor emotional eating disorder sufferers and encourage them to seek help from a healthcare professional.

It may be difficult for a person recovering from an eating disorder to make healthy food choices, but with support they will feel better.

2. If you’re caring for a loved one with an eating disorder, you may experience periods of relapse. Be patient with them and be there for them as they recover.

What you can do to help someone with a eating disorder

1. When someone comes to you with their thoughts, take time to listen to that person. We all have problems and struggles, and it’s important that they feel heard.

Even if you don’t agree with what they have to say, make sure they know they can come to you when they need help.

2. Socializing is vital to building relationships. Invite them to activities and events or ask if they want to hang out one-on-one even if they don’t want socialization.

This may help make them feel less alone, which is important in accompanying people with a mental illness.

3. Value and appreciate them: A good friend makes sure that their friend knows that they are valued and appreciated for nonphysical reasons as well.

They should mention that the friendship is important to them not just because of physical qualities.


If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you’re not struggling with an eating disorder right now. But the reality is that eating disorders affect more people than we care to admit.

In fact, according to the National Eating Disorders Association, “estimate that 20 million women and 10 million men in America will have an eating disorder at some point in their lives”.

Understanding this disease condition fast and treating it will save you from its complications and makes you healthy. (5)

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