Anorexia Nervosa is a very serious diagnosis given when a person has significantly restricted food intake, resulting in weight loss over time, often accompanied by preoccupation with weight and shape and extreme fear of weight gain. As a result of poor nourishment a person with Anorexia Nervosa is often seriously compromised in many areas of their life, including physical and mental health, and social and emotional wellbeing.

'Atypical' Anorexia Nervosa

Not all people with a diagnosis or Anorexia Nervosa are in the stereotypically very low weight range. A diagnosis of Atypical Anorexia Nervosa is used when someone meets all of the behavioural and psychological criteria for Anorexia Nervosa, but they are not in a very low weight range. Recent research suggests that Atypical Anorexia Nervosa may in fact be more common than the 'typical' version of the disorder, and that due to a lack of recognition many people with this illness may not be accessing appropriate treatment.

More information is available from the National Eating Disorders Collaboration.

Bulimia Nervosa is a condition with two main features:

  1. Episodes of binge eating in which a person consumes a very large amount of food in a short period of time, with a feeling of loss of control while eating, followed by;
  2. Compensatory behaviours used as a mechanism of weight control in response to the binge. These behaviours may include self-induced vomiting, laxative use, extreme exercise etc.

More information is available from the National Eating Disorders Collaboration.

Binge Eating Disorder is a diagnosis used for people who have frequent episodes in which they consume a large amount of food in a short period of time, with a feeling of a loss of control while eating that food. Binge Eating is quite different to people occasionally overeating, and describes episodes of eating which can leave a person feeling extremely uncomfortable and distressed, with potentially signficant impacts on physical and mental health.

More information is available from the National Eating Disorders Collaboration.

A person with a diagnosis of Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorder (OSFED) has some of the symptoms of other Eating Disorders but may not clearly fit these other diagnosis. This doesn't mean the diagnosis is any less serious, a person with a diagnosis of OSFED may have very disturbed eating behaviours and/or compensatory behaviours and/or body image distress, as with all other Eating Disorders.

OSFED is one of the most commonly diagnosed Eating Disorders, reflecting the individual differences that may occur in presentation from person to person.

More information is available from the National Eating Disorders Collaboration.