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.
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.