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Eating Disorders

Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and eating disorders not otherwise specified (EDNOS) are psychiatric diagnoses that involve a significant disturbance in the perception of body shape and weight, which leads to an abnormal or obsessive relationship with food, exercise and self-image.

Anorexia: the refusal to maintain minimally normal weight for age and height (weight less than 85% of expected); an intense fear of gaining weight; a denial of the severity of current low body weight; and an absence of monthly menstruation (in premenopausal women).

Bulimia: characterized by recurrent episodes of binge eating followed by inappropriate behaviors to prevent weight gain, such as self-induced vomiting; misuse of laxatives, diuretics, and enemas; fasting; and/or excessive exercise.

EDNOS: have many of the characteristics of anorexia and/or bulimia without meeting the strict parameters of those diagnoses. Depression, anxiety, and substance abuse often accompany these disorders, and significant physical complications can also occur.

If a person’s eating disorder risks his/her physical and emotional health, the person may need to leave school or work and enter intensive treatment. Some symptoms associated with eating disorders are significant weight loss (15% or more) from original body weight; the inability to concentrate; chronic fatigue; decreased strength of immune system and susceptibility to illness; an obsession with food that dominates the student’s life; extreme moodiness; excessive vulnerability to stress; tendency to socially withdraw; repetitive injuries and pain from compulsive/excessive exercise; and extreme perfectionism and/or rigidity.

  • If you think you may have an eating disorder:

    1. Seek assistance. The following resources are available to help you.

    2. Submit a CARE Report.

    Submit a CARE Report

  • When corresponding with someone who suffers from an eating disorder:

    1. Utilize the following advice.


    • When possible, speak to the person in private.
    • Be supportive. Express concern about the person’s health. Provide specific examples of behaviors or symptoms that worry you.
    • Refer the person to campus resources for help.


    • Reassure a person that their obsessions are normal and therefore nothing to worry about.
    • Scare the person into getting help. With eating disorders, fear seldom motivates change.
    • Make jokes about eating disorders or about people who are overweight.
    • Make positive comments about the person’s weight loss. It’s difficult to tell if you are rewarding healthy behaviors or encouraging a hidden disorder.

    2. Seek assistance. Recommend and reference the following resources for further guidance.

    3. Submit a CARE Report.

    Submit a CARE Report