What Is an Eating Disorder?

What Is an Eating Disorder?

Eating disorders are mental illnesses that can affect anyone. In the United States alone, approximately 20 million women and 10 million men will suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life.

Currently, there are 4 diagnoses of eating disorders: Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder, and Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorders.

While we don’t know an exact cause, current research suggests that biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors all contribute to the development of an eating disorder.

Yes, people with an eating disorder have an unhealthy relationship with food and weight, but it is never just about the food, but a way to manage uncomfortable emotions.

Numerous studies have shown links between eating disorders and perfectionism, the need to control, difficulty expressing emotion, internalization of the thin ideal, dieting, and low self-esteem.

Eating disorders also often run in families indicating a significant genetic contribution. Many people don’t realize that Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.

Treatment is available, though, and is most successful when the intervention is early and multifaceted with medical, mental health, and nutritional care.

Watch other videos in our Psych in 60 series to learn more about Eating Disorders and leave your questions in the comments below!

Click here for more content by Juliet Kuehnle, MS, NCC, LPC!

Juliet Kuehnle, MS, NCC, LPC
Juliet Lam Kuehnle is a licensed professional counselor. She specializes in helping all ages with eating disorders, body image, self-esteem, picky eating, grief & loss, mood disorders, trauma, and with the LGBTQ population. She also works with lots of middle and high schoolers to help them navigate their challenges and stressors. She is trained in EMDR therapy and uses this often with trauma, phobias, anxiety, and other areas in which clients feel stuck. She spends her free time with her husband and two young daughters, watching Duke basketball & golf, and in the music scene!


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