3 Types Of Eating Disorders To Be Aware Of

Disclaimer: The post is developed in partnership with BetterHelp.

Everyone copes with the stress of life in different ways, with some ways being healthier than others. Some people might turn to exercise, music, or journaling, while others may rely on alcohol, shopping, or even eating to work through their difficult emotions. 

Eating disorders often stem from people’s attempts to handle pain, heartbreak, or trauma. These disorders may be hidden in plain sight, but without knowing what to look for, it can be difficult to spot them. Sometimes, someone’s eating patterns have a deeper explanation, revealing something far different than what appears on the surface. You may assume that someone is a picky eater or that they just have a small appetite when, in reality, they’re battling a mental illness. 

Eating disorders have one of the highest death rates out of all mental health conditions, making it essential to be aware of their signs and symptoms. In this article, we’ll be covering three types of eating disorders and how to find support for them. 

3 Common Eating Disorders

While there are several different kinds of eating disorders, some are more common than others. Below, we’ll discuss anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder, which are the three most common.  

  • Anorexia Nervosa: Anorexia is characterized by significantly restrictive eating patterns that contribute to a very low and unhealthy body weight. People who have this disorder are fearful of weight gain and go to great lengths to avoid it, including engaging in rigorous exercise and, at times, purging. They also have a distorted body image and see themselves as much bigger than they really are. Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness, posing great risks to individuals with this disorder. 
  • Bulimia Nervosa: When someone has bulimia, they eat copious amounts of food and then attempt to make up for the large number of calories consumed by purging or using laxatives, enemas, or diuretics. They may exercise excessively and engage in fasting to avoid gaining weight. Usually, their purging is self-induced and secretive. To learn more about the treatment options available to those with bulimia, visit https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/eating-disorders/bulimia-recovery-bulimia-treatment-options-and-methods/. 


  • Binge-Eating Disorder: People with binge-eating disorder consume large amounts of food and feel unable to stop eating even when they’re unbearably full. Instead of eating when they’re hungry, individuals with this disorder normally binge to cope with negative feelings like stress or sadness, and they often wait until they’re alone to binge. Unlike bulimia, people with this disorder do not throw their food up afterward. Rather, they may restrict their calories at times to make up for the binges. However, this often only fuels the disorder, causing them to eat even more. Binge eating disorder can lead to mental health concerns like shame, guilt, and depression, further exasperating the condition. 

Other types of eating disorders exist, which often share symptoms and themes with those mentioned above. Just like any other mental health condition, eating disorders are not a choice, and it’s crucial for people living with them to seek support.

Finding Support And Treatment

Reaching out for help can be a powerful first step in receiving support and treatment for an eating disorder. There are a number of available options for treatment including medication, inpatient care, counseling from a nutritionist or dietitian, as well as therapy. Everyone has different needs when it comes to recovery, making it important to assess one’s options and speak with a doctor or other professional before deciding how to proceed. 

Final Thoughts

Eating disorders are serious yet treatable mental health conditions requiring professional attention. Looks alone cannot indicate the presence of an eating disorder, making it crucial to take all of a person’s symptoms into consideration before jumping to conclusions. Asking for help is a sign of bravery, not weakness, and those who do seek support often find that there are many resources at their disposal. While eating disorders can make life feel bleak, overcoming them with the right tools and guidance can help people lead healthier, more fulfilling lives.