Eating disorders cause disruption or disturbances in eating patterns and related thoughts and behaviour causing distress to one’s mental and physical health. Having an Eating Disorder is not a conscious choice or something one can decide to start or stop doing. They are serious but treatable physical and mental illnesses that can impact people irrespective of their gender, age, race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, body shape, and weight.
While it is not completely clear what the causes of eating disorders are for sure, there is growing consensus that causes consist of a range of psychological, biological and sociocultural factors. When one suffers from an eating disorder, they themselves often do not understand or see the severity of it.
Sometimes they don’t have the awareness or knowledge about eating disorders or sometimes they feel shame or guilt attached to talking about it. This makes it harder for them to access help. However, early intervention and treatment fastens recovery, reduces symptoms and improves the likelihood of staying free of the eating disorder.
While often mental health diagnoses are evolving and don’t always encompass or accurately include each and every person’s feelings, they are helpful to understand the nature of distress. The diagnoses can be used as a benchmark to provide evidence based effective treatment. If your relationship with food or body image feels stressful to you irrespective of fitting into any diagnostic criteria or not, you deserve to get support and help. Research shows that many people with subclinical eating disorders will go on to develop full eating disorders, so early intervention can be helpful.
The eating disorders recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), a manual used to diagnose psychiatric disorders by mental health practitioners, include the following disorders. All explanations below are in line with the diagnostic criteria of DSM V.