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Eating disorders is a broad term covering a variety of different conditions related to extreme emotions, attitudes and behaviors surrounding weight and food issues. Eating disorders are serious and can be life-threatening. Learn more about each eating disorder below and some additional resources.
People with anorexia nervosa have obsessions with eating, food and weight control. Many people with this condition see themselves as overweight, even though they are underweight. They may restrict the type of food they eat, portion their food carefully and eat very small quantities of food. Some people may also binge eat and subsequently engage in exercise, vomiting or dieting (compensatory behaviors).
Symptoms of anorexia nervosa may include:
- Extremely low body weight
- Severe food restriction
- Relentless pursuit of thinness and unwillingness to maintain a normal or healthy weight
- Intense fear of gaining weight
- Distorted body image and self-esteem that is heavily influenced by perceptions of body weight and shape, or a denial of the seriousness of low body weight
- Lack of menstruation among girls and women.
People with bulimia nervosa feel they have a lack of control with their regular and repeated incidents of eating unusually large amounts of food. Binge eating is followed by behavior that compensates for the overeating such as forced vomiting, excessive use of laxatives or diuretics, fasting and/or excessive exercise.
People with bulimia nervosa usually maintain a “healthy or normal weight”, while some are slightly overweight. Usually, bulimic behavior is done secretly and the cycle can occur anywhere from several times a week to many times a day.
Other symptoms may include:
- Chronically inflamed and sore throat
- Swollen salivary glands in the neck and jaw area
- Worn tooth enamel, and increasingly sensitive and decaying teeth as a result of exposure to stomach acid
- Acid reflux disorder and other gastrointestinal problems
- Intestinal distress and irritation from laxative abuse
- Severe dehydration from purging of fluids
- Electrolyte imbalance—too low or too high levels of sodium, calcium, potassium, and other minerals that can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
Binge Eating Disorder
People with binge eating disorder lose control over their eating and as a result are often overweight or obese. They are at higher risk of high blood pressure and developing cardiovascular disease. They experience shame and guilt about their eating, which can lead to more binge eating.
Other symptoms may include:
- Eating unusually large amounts of food in a specific amount of time, such as over a 2-hour period
- Feeling that your eating behavior is out of control
- Eating even when you’re full or not hungry
- Eating rapidly during binge episodes
- Eating until you’re uncomfortably full
- Frequently eating alone or in secret
- Feeling depressed, disgusted, ashamed, guilty or upset about your eating
- Frequently dieting, possibly without weight loss
Eating Disorders Resources
Resource and treatment options that include Intensive Outpatient Care to Partial Hospitalization.
Eating Disorder Foundation of Denver
Assistance with navigating treatment options, insurance coverage, available resources and free groups.
Eating Recovery Center of Denver
Treatment options from Intensive Outpatient to Inpatient Treatment.
National Institute for Mental Health
Information on different eating disorder diagnoses and treatment options.
Educational material, peer support, treatment information and a self-screening tool.