Mental Health

EDNOS: The Most Dangerous Eating Disorder That No One Talks About

There are three main eating disorders that are talked about in high school Health classes: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder. But classifying only these three conditions as eating disorders leaves out a large percentage of the population that’s suffering from an eating disorder that doesn’t fit into one of these categories.

Hence where EDNOS comes in. EDNOS stands for Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified and it includes several types of situations where eating habits don’t match the exact criteria for a specific disorder.

Atypical anorexia nervosa – Probably the most common EDNOS, it occurs when all the criteria for anorexia nervosa is met, but the individual remains at a normal weight. This can often be how anorexia or bulimia begins as the individual grows angry at the lack of bodily change and turn to more drastic measures to promote weight loss. To learn more, click here.

Bulimia nervosa – The next most common EDNOS is when all the criteria for bulimia nervosa is met, but the binging and vomiting happens less frequently. In order to be classified as bulimic, an individual must engage in binging and purging more than twice a week or for more than three months, anything less falls under the EDNOS version of bulimic. To read more, click here.

Binge-eating disorder – A type of EDNOS where all the criteria for binge eating is met, but the binging occurs less frequently (similar to bulimia nervosa above). To read more, click here.

Purging disorder – Another type of EDNOS closely related to bulimia nervosa is when the individual purges, regardless of a binge. For example, the said individual may force themselves to vomit after eating a very small portion of food, like a couple crackers. To read more, click here.

Night-eating disorder – A type of EDNOS closely related to binge eating disorder, night eating disorder is when an individual has little to no appetite in the morning, but an extremely large appetite late at night. It’s related to mood and sleep disorders as well as eating disorders. It’s not simply binging right before bed, night-eating is classified as consistent snacking throughout the night. To read more, click here.

Chewing and Spitting – While this EDNOS does not have an official name, it often goes by “chewing and spitting”. It consists of the repetitious chewing of food, followed by spitting out instead of swallowing. This can be a technique used in other eating disorders and can also lead to or coincide with other drastic measures. To read more, click here.

There are also some less common eating disorders that are not classified under EDNOS:

Orthorexia – At first glance, an orthorexic may just seem like a very health conscious person; however, orthorexia is a serious disorder in which the individual becomes obsessed with pursuing a healthy diet. They become extremely restricting of the foods they will allow themselves to eat and can often limit themselves to only a handful of “pure” foods. Unlike anorexia or bulimia, an orthorexic’s fascination is not with weight, but with a healthy and pure lifestyle. Many of the symptoms coincide with anorexia nervosa and OCD. It is also known as avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder. To read more, click here.

Pica – The repeated consumption of non-nutritive materials such as paper, glass, dirt, feces, or chalk. These habits must continue for more than a month post infantry in order to be classified as pica. To read more, click here.

Rumination Disorder – Rumination disorder is the regurgitation of partially digested food, followed by re-chewing and either swallowing or spitting out. This is most common in infants or young children; however, has also been cited in older individuals. To read more, click here.

Contrary to popular belief, EDNOS has the highest mortality rate. A study by Dr. Crow, that was published in 2009, found that the mortality rate for bulimia was 3.9%, anorexia was 4.0%, and EDNOS was 5.2%.  EDNOS proves to be the most dangerous of eating disorders.

Suffering from EDNOS can be especially harmful to an individual’s physical and mental health. Many are constantly shamed for “not having a real eating disorder” or “just doing it for attention”. It’s important to notice that while an eating disorder may not meet all of the criteria for one of the three most well—known conditions, that does not make the disorder, or the individual, any less valid. Every person deserves help.

If you or someone you know may be suffering from an eating disorder call 800-931-2237 or text “NEDA” to 741741. 

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Ariel Zedric is a cat obsessed, metaphor loving, 16-year old living in the U.S. She is aspiring to be a lot of things. Contact via email at ariel.zedric@gmail.com or Twitter and Instagram @arielzedric.

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