Understanding Binge Eating, Anorexia and Bulimia

Eating disorders are illnesses characterized by unhealthy behaviors associated with food or eating, such as starving, overeating, or bingeing.
Binge eating disorder involves episodes of extreme overeating.
A woman binges at night.
After an episode of binge eating, sufferers may feel guilty, ashamed, or depressed.
Weight fluctuations are a typical symptom of binge eating disorder.
A woman reaches for a pastry.
Fresh fruits and a nutrition label.
Anorexia nervosa is a condition characterized by an abnormal fear of gaining weight.
A woman measures her waist.
Many people with anorexia are obsessed with food
A woman looks at her distorted reflection in the mirror.
Anorexia can cause long-term health problems.
To diagnose anorexia, tests may be performed to rule out other causes of weight loss and wasting.
Risky behaviors, talking about death or suicide, and withdrawing from loved ones are all suicide warning signs.
A short hospital stay may be required to begin anorexia treatment.
A family eats dinner.
A woman takes an antidepressant.
A woman eats cake.
Purging may involve self-induced vomiting, laxatives, or excessive exercise.
People with bulimia have an intense fear of gaining weight.
Many people with bulimia experience depression or anxiety.
Bingeing and purging behaviors can cause worn tooth enamel.
The fact that many people try to hide bingeing and purging behavior can make diagnosing bulimia challenging.
If you suspect a loved one may have an eating disorder, talk to them respectfully about your worries.
The most successful treatment for bulimia involves a combination of approaches.

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Reviewed by Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, Chief Medical Editor on Wednesday, December 18, 2013

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