Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS)
Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS), is a diagnosis that may be given to someone who is suffering from an eating disorder, but does not show all the symptoms described by the 'text book' definition of anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa.
This type of eating disorder (otherwise known as atypical or sub clinical) can be just as harmful to health as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa; the way it’s categorised is just a technicality. An eating disorder is an eating disorder regardless of its label.
Here are some fictional examples of eating disorders that may be classed as an eating disorder not otherwise specified.
Jane has an intense fear of being fat and refuses to gain weight. Her friends tell her she looks too thin and she weighs less than is considered normal for her height and age. Jane constantly obsesses about her appearance and wishes she were slimmer. She has become thinner by restricting her calories, but is experimenting with laxatives and diuretics. Her menstrual cycle is present.
Sally has recently lost a considerable amount of weight. She considered herself ‘chubby’ in childhood and has since never felt comfortable in her own body. She loathes having any fat on her body. Sally has lost weight by counting her calories, but she also regularly binge eats ands vomits afterwards. Her menstrual cycle is absent but her weight is considered normal for her height and age.
John sometimes feels so depressed about his weight he turns to food for comfort. He wolfs down crisps, cakes, cereal, and bread, anything that’s easy to eat quickly. John feels completely out of control when he does it. Afterwards he feels so frightened he will gain even more weight that he makes himself vomit to compensate. He’s been doing this twice a month for about a year.
There are serious health implications for anyone who engages in the above behaviours, yet the people in these examples do not have enough symptoms to qualify for a diagnosis of anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder.
Calorie restriction, purging, binge eating, and excessive exercise performed with any regularity or frequency are detrimental to health and cause a great deal of distress. Even though they often start gradually, they can eventually escalate into something very serious that is much harder to control and treat.
Any form of disordered eating that is taking place, no matter what the reason, needs investigation and the earlier the better.