Eating disorders are common but often misunderstood mental health conditions. Concerns with body image and eating disorders, which sometimes go together but do not always go together, continue to increase in society. At this point in time, it’s said that roughly 30 million individuals in the United States alone are impacted by eating disorders. However, as not everyone receives a diagnosis, the true number of those living with diagnosable eating disorders may differ. If you found this page, it’s likely that you are considering taking an eating disorder test and want to learn what an eating disorder test can and cannot tell you. Here, we will go over some of the common types of eating disorders, what an eating disorder test can and can’t tell you, and how to find the free and confidential online eating disorder test on the Mind Diagnostics website.
Eating Disorders Overview
Common questions about eating disorders include, “what is binge eating disorder?” “how do I know if I have an eating disorder?” or “what are eating disorders?” Feeding or eating disorders are a group of mental health conditions that can affect anyone. People of all ages, body sizes, socioeconomic statuses, genders, backgrounds, and sexual or romantic orientations can develop an eating disorder. While there’s no single known cause for the development of an eating disorder, risk factors for developing an eating disorder may include:
- Family history of eating disorders or other mental health conditions
- Personal history of other mental health conditions
- Physical health conditions, such as type one diabetes
- Weight stigma
- Personality traits, such as perfectionism
There are a number of different types of eating disorder diagnoses to be aware of. Understanding eating disorders is helpful for those who suffer with eating disorder symptoms, but it’s also beneficial for family members, friends, and loved ones of people with eating disorders to have an understanding of how eating disorders present and operate. If someone close to you has an eating disorder, it’s best to meet them with support instead of frustration, anger, or judgment. Eating disorders aren’t a choice, nor are they a personal fault. These disorders are devastating, but the good news is that recovery from an eating disorder is possible.
Types Of Eating Disorders
Find an eating disorders list below that describes some of the most common feeding or eating disorders.
Anorexia Nervosa (AN)
Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder categorized by restrictive food intake and fear of gaining weight. Potential warning signs of anorexia nervosa include:
- Fear of weight gain
- Weight loss or failure to follow one’s growth curve (in children)
- Irregular menses or the loss of menstrual periods, if applicable
- Delayed puberty, if applicable
- Fainting or collapse
- Dry skin
- Brittle nails and hair
- Thinning hair or hair loss
- Muscle weakness
- Loss of muscle mass
- Dental problems
- Gastrointestinal distress
One does not have to experience all of the above signs to receive a diagnosis of anorexia, but they must meet the current DSM criteria to be diagnosed.
Bulimia Nervosa (BN)
Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder that is categorized by binging and purging on a regular basis. Potential warning signs of bulimia nervosa may include:
- Smelling of vomit or attempting to cover up the smell of vomit after purging
- Electrolyte imbalances
- Gastrointestinal distress
- Eating in secret or in private
- Skipping meals or fasting
- Hoarding food
- Marks on knuckles
- Tooth decay or damage
- Swollen glands
- Broken blood capillaries on the face after purging
- Erosion of the esophagus
- Use of diet pills, laxatives, or diuretics
- Excessive exercise
Again, not all of these warning signs must be present for bulimia nervosa to be diagnosed. Instead, someone must meet the current DSM criteria for bulimia. One of the lesser-known facts about bulimia and purging disorder, which is a separate disorder that is categorized under the diagnosis of other specified feeding and eating disorders or OSFED, is that purging does not always occur through vomiting. It can also occur through excessive exercise, laxative pills or enemas, and other means. Purging can have severe consequences, such as electrolyte balances, which is why an electrolyte balance is such a dangerous sign affiliated with bulimia. Electrolyte balances can cause heart problems, irregular heartbeat, and even death.
Binge Eating Disorder (BED)
Binge eating disorder is an eating disorder that is characterized by recurring binges or eating excessive amounts of food that are paired with feelings of shame, guilt, and loss of control. Those researching binge eating disorder are often confused by what is considered binge. The DSM-5 criteria states that an episode of binge eating is characterized by both of the following markers:
- Eating, in a discrete period of time (e.g., within any 2-hour period), an amount of food that is definitely larger than most people would eat in a similar period of time under similar circumstances.
- The sense of lack of control over eating during the episode (e.g., a feeling that one cannot stop eating or control what or how much one is eating)
To diagnose binge eating disorder, a person must experience at least three out of five specific symptoms affiliated with binges, including:
- Feelings of disgust, guilt, or depression after binging
- Eating in secret or in private
- Eating rapidly (during the binge)
- Consuming large amounts of food, not due to hunger (during the binge)
- Eating to the point of discomfort, which can be severe
These episodes of binging must persist at least once a week for three months for binge eating disorder to be diagnosed. Distress regarding binge eating must also be present.
Other Specified Feeding OrEating Disorder (OSFED)
Other specified feeding or eating disorder or OSFED is a diagnosis that is used when someone has an eating disorder but does not meet the criteria for other eating disorders in the DSM. Specific disorders included in the diagnosis of OSFED include:
- Atypical Anorexia Nervosa, which occurs when someone meets the majority of the DSM-5 criteria for anorexia, but their BMI is in the normal range or above.
- Bulimia OfLimited Duration Or Frequency, which occurs when someone meets the criteria for bulimia, but episodes of binging and purging have occurred for less than three months or occur less than once a week.
- Purging Disorder, which occurs when someone does not binge eat but does use purging behaviors such as taking laxatives or vomiting.
- Binge Eating Disorder OfLimited Duration Or Frequency, which occurs when someone meets the criteria for binge eating disorder, but the episodes of binging have occurred for less than three months or occur less than once a week.
- Night Eating Syndrome, which is characterized by episodes of eating excessively at night or after waking during the night that is not able to be explained by sleepwalking, other conditions, or any other cause.
Other eating disorder diagnoses include ARFID or Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder, UFED or Unspecified Feeding Or Eating Disorder, and Pica.
Eating Disorders Vs. Disordered Eating
You’ve likely heard the term “disordered eating.” If so, you might wonder what the difference between eating disorders and disordered eating is. Eating disorders are diagnosable mental health conditions, whereas disordered eating is a term used to describe disordered eating behaviors or patterns. If you struggle with disordered eating but don’t have a diagnosable mental health condition, reaching out to someone who can assist you or give you someone to talk with may still benefit you. You might see a dietitian who works with disordered eating, or a therapist who works with individuals who struggle with similar concerns.
What An Eating Disorder Test Can And Can’t Tell You
An eating disorder test can:
- Give you insight into your symptoms
- Serve as the first step to realizing you have a problem or the first step to reaching out
- Help connect you with support
An eating disorder test can’t:
- Diagnose you with an eating disorder
- Replace an evaluation done by a medical or mental health professional
If you have an eating disorder or think that you might, it’s extremely important to reach out for the support of a licensed mental health professional. To receive a professional diagnosis, you might start by contacting your general doctor or a psychiatrist. Many treatments are available for eating disorders, ranging from various forms of therapy to inpatient treatment. If you’re in immediate medical danger, call 911 immediately or go to your nearest emergency room.
Eating disorders are life-threatening mental health conditions. If you believe that you struggle with an eating disorder or symptoms of an eating disorder, it is absolutely essential to reach out to an appropriate medical or mental health provider who can help. Eating disorders are serious, and no matter what, it’s not something to wait to get help for. Contact your general doctor or look for a mental health provider in your area who specializes in eating disorders. Recovery is worth it, and you deserve to get the help that you need. Using the mind diagnostics eating disorder test, you can gain insight into your symptoms. It is not a replacement for a professional diagnosis, but it may just be your first step into seeking the help that you need. Click here to take the mind diagnostics eating disorder test.