12 Complate Types of Eating Disorders : Cause, Signs, & Complications

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What is an Eating Disorder? National Institute of Mental Health describes eating disorder as serious and often fatal illnesses that cause severe disturbances to a person’s eating behaviors. A person with this abnormal attitude may focus excessively about their body weight and shape, resulting in his/her health damage. A person with an eating disorder may start consuming foods that are less or more than usual, but at a certain stage, the desire to eat less or more is out of control (American Psychiatric Association [APA], 2005).

Eating disorders usually develop during adolescence or young adulthood. But it can begin in early childhood too. Women are much more vulnerable. Only about 5% to 15% of people with anorexia or bulimia are male. One serious problem is eating disorders that occur in children and adolescents. It can cause a number of serious physical problems and even death. If you see one of the signs of an eating disorder in your children, contact your pediatrician immediately.

Eating disorders commonly followed with other conditions, such as depression and anxiety disorders. Avoiding that serious danger, we should more aware when our family or friends suffer from eating disorder. An eating disorder cannot be overcome with sheer power. They will need treatment to help restore normal body weight and eating habits. This treatment is discusses about fundamental psychological problems. Remember that the best results occur when eating disorders are treated in the early stages. Fortunately, doctors classified it as a medical illness, so with a proper treatment it can be healed.

There are four common forms of eating disorders, include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge-eating disorder and eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS). There’re many Types of Eating Disorders, but only below 4 types which popular around the world.

1. Anorexia Nervosa

This is a type of eating disorder that usually occurs in female. People with anorexia nervosa disorder typically have an obsessive fear of gaining weight. They refuse to eat or cruelly limit the quantity of the food, despite the fact that they really hungry. They view themselves fat, even though they are very thin indeed.


Many experts believe there are several factors that can cause this eating disorder, such as family issues, maladaptive behavior, lack of confidence and weight problem. Most of them have a bad experience concerning weight problem. This encourages them to have an uncontrolled diet and excessive exercise that lead them to bulimia. New research shows that mental disorder is also caused by chemical processes in the brain. Experts suspect that the abnormality of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, is the main trigger of this type of eating disorder. Clinical research has reserved that changes in the serotonin system will affect feeding behavior, especially serotonin, which enhances the response of satisfaction (satiety), weak in patients with bulimia nervosa (Brewerton, 1995). Insulin resistance, which may be present in patients with anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, weakens the body’s ability to produce serotonin from L-tryptophan (Goodwin et al, 1990).

Signs & Symptoms

  • Sensitive to weather / cold temperatures, easily get sick
  • Exercising constantly in order to maintain their “ideal weight”
  • Not having menstrual periods
  • Hair loss and dry skin
  • Often felt bad mood and hard to concentrate


Anorexia can lead to other serious health problems if not treated immediately. Some complications of anorexia nervosa are :

  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Brain damage
  • Heart failure
  • Menstruation is not smooth
  • Anemia
  • Kidney failure
  • Infertility
  • Osteoporosis or bone loss
  • Constipation
  • Deaths due to malnutrition or suicide


If you have family or friends who suffer from anorexia, give them a subtle approach and persuade to get a medical help. Of course, this is not an easy job. Usually, they assume that they all right and nothing have to be fixed. You should be more patience and keep give them a continuous support. Never criticize or make them feel depressed because it will only worsen the situation.

Most anorexia cases are handled with outpatient basis, while severe cases are handled with care hospital. The aim of this treatment is to help them obtain the ideal weight back safely. Moreover, doctors will bring them round that they lived an unhealthy life by giving them psychotherapy and suggestions related to food and nutrition. The treatment of anorexia nervosa cannot be done instantly. To recover fully, it would take several years.

2. Bulimia Nervosa

As well as anorexia, bulimia nervosa is potentially life-threatening. This mental illness is related with depression, extreme levels of low self-esteem, alcoholism, and self-harm acts. People suffering with bulimia characterized by repeated binge eating, and then forced it out of the body by vomiting or using laxatives. They do this because they feel shame about their body size. Bulimia is more often experienced by women than by men, as well as eating disorders in general. The study estimates that there are about 8 of 100 women who suffer from bulimia nervosa. Most of it is experienced by women at the age of 16-40.


Just like the causes of anorexia, the main cause of bulimia nervosa is not known with certainty. Many factors can increase a person’s risk of developing this disorder. Trigger factors include:

  • Psychological problems, such as low self-esteem, anxiety disorder, depression, perfectionism, post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive komplusif disorder (OCD).
  • Gender. Bulimia is more often experienced by women than men.
  • Heredity. If you have siblings or parents who have bulimia, you are at higher risk for experiencing the same disorder.
  • Social demands. For example, adolescents who feel the need to lose weight because it affected his friends.
  • Demands of the profession. For example, a model that should be slim or athletes who need to keep their weight closely.

Signs & Symptoms of bulimia

As described above, binge is the main symptoms of bulimia. This will be followed by vomiting, a strict diet and exercise excessively. But it is not quite easy to detect the symptoms of bulimia in somebody’s life, because sometimes binge-eating is a common thing in society. We all know that eating is fun. It can reduce the stress level.

A person with bulimia is identical with skinny. It is not true. He/she could have a normal weight or even overweight. However, there are some signs that can be considered as a symptom of bulimia nervosa, such as :

  • Always go to the bathroom after meals to throw up (of course, it done many times)
  • Excessive exercise
  • There is a change such as the cheeks or jaw swelling, rupture of blood vessels in the eye, damage to the tooth enamel.
  • Too shackled with the affairs of weight or body shape.


The danger of Bulimia is caused by the behavior of binge-eating and forced vomiting that happened repeatedly. The various organs will be damaged by this extreme cleaning, such as:

  • Scar tissue arise in fingers which used to induce vomiting
  • Erosion of tooth enamel due to the forced vomiting (secrete gastric acid)
  • Swelling of the salivary glands in the cheeks
  • Low potassium levels in the blood.
  • Teeth sensitive to hot or cold
  • Exposure to excess stomach acid in the esophagus can cause ulcers, cracked or narrowing
  • Gastrointestinal problems, severe hydration
  • Heart difficulties resulting from an electrolyte imbalance.


Therapeutic approach for patients with bulimia are :

  • Psychological therapy (psychotherapy) by a psychiatrist to control the behavior disorder.
  • Anti-depression medication can often help control bulimia, although the patient did not seem depressed. But bulimia will relapse if the drug is discontinued.

3. Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating disorder (BED) is the most common eating disorder in the United States, affects 3.5% of women, 2% of men, and more than 30% of those seeking treatment for weight reduction. BED was first described in 1959 by Albert Stunkert (a psychiatrist and researcher) as a “Night Eating Syndrome” (NES), and the term “Binge Eating Disorder” was created to describe the “binging” behavior type without nocturnal factor (night time). BED usually leads to obesity, although this can occur in normal weight. There is a higher incidence of psychiatric comorbidity (the simultaneous presence of two medical conditions, such as someone with schizophrenia and drug abuse) with a percentage of individual-individual with BED and an “Axis I comorbid” disorders psychiatric be 78.9% and for those with subclinical BED, 63.6%.

Individuals who suffer from Binge Eating Disorder will frequently lose control over his/her eating. The difference between binge eating disorder and bulimia nervosa is the episode of binge-eating is not followed by compensatory behaviors, such as purging, fasting, or excessive exercise. Because of this, many people suffering with binge-eating disorder may be obese; moreover, it can be develop to other serious conditions, such as cardiovascular disease. People who struggle with this disorder may also experience intense feelings of guilt, distress, and embarrassment related to their binge-eating, which could influence further progression of the eating disorder.


Like anorexia and bulimia, no one really knows for sure what causes binge eating disorder. But one thing for sure, people with BED usually have been depressed in a long term. Whether the depression causes binge eating disorder, or vice versa, or they have a causal relationship, it is not known for sure.

The trigger could be emotions, such as happiness, anger, sadness or boredom. However, many people also claim that binge-eating occurs regardless of their mood. It is also unclear whether dieting and binge eating-related. Some studies show that about half of all people with BED have had an episode of binge before they started to diet. Experts also said that BED is commonly found among competitive athletes; include swimmers or gymnasts that they should maintain their “ideal” body shape for public attention.

Signs & Symptoms

Many people with binge eating disorder have tried to control him/herself, but still unable to control it in a long time. Some people even skip work, school, or social activities just to do the binge eat. Obese people with binge eating disorder often feel bad about themselves and may avoid social gatherings. Those who binge eat, whether obese or not, often feel ashamed and try to hide their problem. They often become very good at hiding it, even close friends and family members are not aware that they severe binge eating disorder. Signs and symptoms of BED are as follows :

  • Chronic dieting despite being hazardously underweight.
  • Constant weight fluctuations.
  • Obsession with calories and fat contents of food.
  • Engaging in ritualistic eating patterns, such as cutting food into tiny pieces, eating alone, and/or hiding food.
  • Depression or lethargic stage.
  • Avoidance of social functions, family and friends; may become isolated and withdrawn
  • Having a lack of control to food consumption.
  • The meal portion is more than normal person’s.
  • They eat faster than normal person.
  • Eat until they feel stuffed and uncomfortable.
  • Eating large amounts even when he/she is not hungry.


People who suffer from binge eating disorder usually feel despondent about their bad behavior and may become depressed. Bingeing episodes usually include foods that are high fat, high sugar and/or salt, but low vitamins and minerals; leads them into other serious health problems, such as :

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • High blood cholesterol levels (hypercholesterolemia)
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Heart disease
  • Some types of cancer.


Basically, there is a simple treatment for all eating disorders types, and the recovery is possible or compulsory. Through a combination of therapy, nutrition education and medical care, the symptoms of eating disorders can be managed or eliminated. Unfortunately, only one in 10 people with eating disorders receive treatment, but must go through the correct recovery.

  • Therapies

Generally, the aims of this treatment are to help the person back to a healthy weight, to heal whatever the psychological problems that related to the disorder, and to reduce behavior or negative thoughts that contribute to the eating disorder. Treatment must address all aspects of the disorder, including psychological and medical components. Continuous therapy may be needed to prevent recurrence.

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Treatment

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a common medical treatment component of eating disorders. This type of therapy is very structured and often takes 10 to 20 sessions. This can be done individually, in groups or with family. Cognitive behavioral therapy is goal-oriented and focused on changing the unhealthy thought patterns, which leads to behavior changes. CBT is considered as the preferred treatment for eating disorders and is often combined with other treatment options.

  • Nutritional Counseling

Nutritional counseling is an important component of the eating disorders treatment. An eating disorder sufferer distorts the perception of a healthy diet; therefore a nutrition counselor will help to establish an eating plan that will allow he/she to maintain a healthy weight. Nutritionists can help to inculcate the habit of eating normally. Lean or obese patients may benefit from medically supervised diet to restore them to a healthy weight. This type of counseling is an important part of the recovery and long-term success.

  • Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy can help people to explore the causes and the thought processes behind their eating disorders, as well as to help the road to recovery. Psychotherapy can also help improve relationships and teach you how to cope with stress and problem-solving techniques. Psychotherapy is important in treating any other disorder, such as depression or anxiety, which can contribute to eating disorders.

  • Medically Assisted Treatment

Many patients are very thin at the beginning of treatment, so that medical attention may be very necessary. Symptoms of eating disorders may quickly become life-threatening, and the first and most important step in treatment is to get the person to a healthy weight and to treat serious medical problems. Anorexia can cause chronic damage to heart failure, anemia or low blood pressure, so the evaluation and continuing treatment by a doctor is very important.

  • Family-based therapy

Family-based therapy is the most effective treatment for children and adolescents who show signs of eating disorders. This type of therapy assumes that the family will be involved in a child’s diet and habits, and strives to educate the whole family to support children with eating disorders.

  • Other Therapeutic Methods

Drugs can be used in the treatment of eating disorders to reducing the obsessive thoughts about food, exercise or body image. It can also be used to treat mental conditions that may underlie eating disorders. These medications may include antidepressants or anti-anxiety agent. In some cases, hospitalization may be medically necessary.

4. Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS)

EDNOS is described as a eating disorder that causes significant difficulty or impairment, but does not meet the criteria for other eating disorders, such as :

  1. Atypical anorexia nervosa (weight is not below normal)
  2. Bulimia nervosa (with less frequent behaviors)
  3. Binge-eating disorder (with less frequent occurrences)
  4. Night eating syndrome (excessive nighttime food consumption)
  5. Purging disorder (purging without binge eating)
  6. Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder : 
    • Failure to consume adequate amounts of food, with serious nutritional consequences, but without the psychological features of Anorexia Nervosa.
    • The reasons are fear of vomiting or dislike of the textures of the food.
  7. Pica : the persistent eating of non-food items when it is not a part of cultural norms.
  8. Rumination Disorder : regurgitation of food that has already been swallowed. The regurgitated food is often re-swallowed or spit out.
  9. Unspecified Feeding or Eating Disorder
    • When behaviors do not meet full criteria for any of the other eating disorders, but still cause clinically significant problems.
    • When medician is unable to assess whether someone meets criteria for another disorder because of the lack of information in an emergency situation.

12 Types of eating disorder above is very fimilar around the world, to prevent this disorder, do health diets and eating is the best ways.