Types of Eating Disorders and How Psychiatrists Can Help

Eating disorders are unhealthy habits like obsessing with food or restricting them altogether. People indulge in such activities for various reasons, mostly due to their body consciousness.

These habits develop as unintentional emotional reactions to loss, trauma, bullying, or more. Sometimes, people can deliberately start such behaviors as they are unhappy with their physical appearance. 

Either way, they can result in serious health consequences that may sometimes be fatal. Overindulgence or restriction of a substance is an addiction, for which you need the right treatment. 

Consulting an experienced psychiatrist at the appropriate time can help. 

Although these disorders are common in children, adolescents, and young women, they can happen to anyone. There is also no difference in the way people globally exercise radical eating behaviors. 

Here are the six most common types of eating disorders:

Anorexia Nervosa

The leading cause for people getting into these habits is a false view of their bodies. Even when they are dangerously underweight, they think that they are overweight. 

When they have an unfounded fear of gaining weight and getting fat, it makes them monitor themselves. They typically restrict the food they consume or avoid certain foods or food groups altogether. 

Again, this condition is divided into two types: 

  • Restrictive and 
  • Purging 

The former makes them restrict their calorie intake and workout more, and hence they lose weight. People with the latter condition also restrict their diet, but occasionally binge and purge what they eat.

Bulimia Nervosa

This disorder is similar to the second type of anorexia as people follow the binge-purge cycles. They tend to eat more frequently and take enormous amounts of food during a specific period. 

They follow an “anything goes” kind of policy and do not limit themselves to certain foods. Individuals may consume things that would not normally do. They cannot control the portions or feel that they cannot stop eating at this time. 

Once they become painfully full, the purging process begins. They start to feel remorse for their actions and fear that they may gain weight. They try to relieve their gut discomfort using fasting, vomiting, laxatives, enemas, exercise, and others. 

Binge Eating

Binge eating disorder has many things in common with bulimia and purging type anorexia. For instance, people consume excessive amounts of food than they need, and they do it for longer periods. They do not believe that they can control their urges or change their eating behaviors.

When they indulge in heavy eating, it is usually once a week or periodically. They eat large portions within a short period. But unlike in other disorders, people with binge eating disorder do not feel remorse or insecurity. They do not purge or cleanse their body of the toxins. 

They often face the risks of medical complications associated with excess weight. They mostly have overweight or obesity. 

Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)

A psychiatrist normally sees this condition as being similar to picky eating. Patients with ARFID experience disturbed eating because of disgust for some tastes or smells. Some people may not have an interest in eating, so they restrict their diet.

As they don’t get sufficient calories or nutrients needed for daily functioning, they may be underweight. They avoid social situations where they are required to eat with others. They may also suffer from many medical complications.


This disorder is one of the rarest, where persons indulge in eating non-food substances. They may like the taste of inedible items, such as clay, chalk, soap, mud, hair, or paper. 

Since they are potentially consuming toxic substances, they are at a high risk of poisoning. They may contract infections or become deficient in nutrients. Sometimes, the things they consume can be fatal.


Rumination is a disorder where persons chew their food, swallow, and regurgitate it. They then proceed to chew or swallow it. Some people may spit out the food. All this may happen within half an hour of eating.

As you can see, this is different from medical conditions like voluntary reflux. They may avoid social gatherings and often have severe malnutrition. People who vomit swallowed food and put it back into their mouths have deeply unresolved issues. 

Given the dangerous and complicated aspects involved in eating disorders, choosing the right medical professional is vital. Particularly in treating eating disorders, the role of psychiatrists is undeniable.

What Kind of Psychiatric Training Do Medical Professionals Have?

Not many know the difference between psychiatry and psychological counseling. While both offer therapy for your mental well-being, the treatment approaches differ. Particularly, the kind of training both the experts receive varies significantly. 

A psychiatrist graduates from a medical school and has a specialization in the field. They are licensed professionals who can prescribe medication to patients. They use a combination of medication, talk therapy, and other practices to help their patients. 

Psychiatry deals with the diagnosis of mental, emotional, and behavioral issues. Professionals offer prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation services to treat these disorders.


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