Eating Disorders Types

There are many different types of eating disorders, and different eating disorders types carry different health risks. The important thing to understand, though, is that people with any kind of eating disorder need treatment. Without treatment, eating disorders usually only get worse over time and people may die from their disorders.

If you think you or someone you care about might have an eating disorder, you need to see a qualified mental health care professional as soon as possible for a diagnosis. A mental health care professional can determine which of the different eating disorders types you or your loved one has and recommended the best treatment plan for you.

Anorexia Nervosa

Perhaps the most dangerous of all types of eating disorders is anorexia nervosa. People with anorexia restrict calories in an attempt to lose weight and often reach a dangerously low weight. Medical complications of anorexia nervosa are great and include things like dehydration, malnutrition, heart failure, kidney failure, lack of menstruation, hair loss, stomach pain, muscle loss, weakness, fainting, fatigue, visual problems and neurological problems. As much as 20 percent of all people with the disorder die from it without treatment and even with treatment, some do not survive.

Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia nervosa is another of the common eating disorders types. People with bulimia binge on food, eating very large amounts of food in a short period of time, and then purge by making themselves vomit and/or taking excessive amounts of laxatives. Many people with bulimia maintain fairly normal weights by binging and purging but some are underweight or overweight. Medical complications of bulimia nervosa include thing like dehydration, nutritional deficiencies, electrolyte imbalances, ulcers, dental problems due to the high acid content in vomit, weakness and fatigue. In some cases, people die due to the disorder.

Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating disorder, sometimes called compulsive overeating, is another of the common types of eating disorders. People with this disorder periodically binge on large amounts of food, sometimes consuming thousands of calories in a short span of time. They feel out of control and cannot resist eating. They do not purge but between binges may fast or go on extreme diets in an attempt to lose weight or prevent weight gain. Medical complications of binge eating disorder include obesity, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes and nutritional deficiencies.


Orthorexia is one of the less common and less well known of all types of eating disorders. It is a condition in which people obsess about healthy eating. Of course eating a healthy diet is a good thing and there is nothing wrong with eating organic foods, becoming a vegetarian or limiting fat, sugar and carbohydrates. However, people with orthorexia take things to an extreme. It may take them hours to shop for groceries because they must read all labels so carefully. They may refuse to attend family gatherings because they worry that the food served may not be healthy. They may skip meals if they can’t find food they feel is safe to eat. People with this condition may suffer nutritional deficiencies and may struggle to maintain a normal weight due to eating a very limited diet. While it’s less well understood, orthorexia is no less harmful than other eating disorders types.

Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS)

Some people have disordered eating habits that do not fit neatly into any of the above listed eating disorders types. Professionals diagnose them with “eating disorders not otherwise specified,” which simply means their eating problems interfere with their daily lives in some way and create problems for them but they do not meet all of the diagnostic criteria for conditions like anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder or orthorexia. Eating disorders not otherwise specified are no less dangerous than other types of eating disorders and people with these kinds of conditions still need treatment.

More than eating disorders types on our effects of eating disorders page

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