What Are Eating Disorders?

Eating disorders are a range of mental health conditions with different symptoms and patterns. What they all have in common is an unhealthy relationship with food and a warped self-image. Eating disorders are observed predominantly in the female population and have the highest mortality rate out of all mental health conditions.

Disorders belonging to this group are:

  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Bulimia nervosa
  • Avoidant/Restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID)
  • Binge eating disorder (BED)
  • Pica
  • Rumination disorder


Symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa

  • Inability to maintain a healthy weight and figure for their sex, height and age unrelated to other health conditions (such as thyroid problems)
  • Unhealthy fixation on calorie intake, dieting and weight loss
  • A strenuous exercise regime which the person follows without regard to poor health or starvation
  • A great fear of gaining weight and the perception of self as fat
  • Gathering sense of self-worth almost solely on the basis of physical appearance
  • Obsessive thoughts about food and eating habits

If left untreated, this disorder can severely damage not only the mental, but also the individual’s physical health, due to malnutrition and excessive, drastic dieting. In worst cases it can cause death due to organ failure.

Symptoms of Bulimia Nervosa

  • Fear of gaining weight and becoming overweight
  • Episodes of binge eating followed by purging and feelings of guilt
  • Sense of self-worth strongly linked to being thin
  • Using laxatives or forcing vomiting after eating
  • Lack of control in food intake in terms of quantity and restrictiveness

This health condition can have very damaging effects on tooth enamel, and the gastrointestinal area. Dehydration, acid reflux and tooth decay are not uncommon. People with bulimia also have a higher risk of heart attack and stroke.


Eating disorders


Symptoms of ARFID

This condition is usually observed in infants and children, although it can persist in adulthood if left untreated. It’s equally prevalent in men and women.

People with avoidant/restrictive food disorder may have trouble getting the necessary nutrient and calorie intake to the point of needing supplements, and in some cases tube feeding. They generally do not have a distorted self-image, but rather aversion to certain food textures, smells, colours and other qualities which prevents them from eating.

Symptoms of BED

Binge eating disorder has some symptoms in common with anorexia and bulimia – mainly the binge eating. Individuals with this health condition may display a lack of control in their food intake, eat even when they are not hungry and feel ashamed and full of regret afterwards. However, an important distinction is that their binging episodes are not followed by purging.

Symptoms of Pica

Pica is characterized by ongoing intake of things which are not considered food. It is most common in children, people with mental disorders and women in pregnancy.

Some of the cravings people with pica might have are for chalk, wood, clay, paper, soil, laundry detergent etc. As a result of their unconventional eating habits these people are more likely to get poisoned or die.

Symptoms of rumination disorder

Rumination disorder can manifest at any time in someone’s life. In early infancy it usually goes away on its own, while treatment is typically needed if it develops in later stages of life. It’s a condition that appears like medical reflux, and can be voluntary or involuntary. A person suffering from rumination disorder will regurgitate food, and then either swallow it again or spit it out. Sometimes, in order to prevent regurgitation from happening they will restrict their food intake, therefore becoming more susceptible to malnutrition.

Other eating disorders

There are a number of specified and unspecified disorders related to eating and feeding. When there are symptoms present that may point to a certain eating disorder, but some of the important factors are missing, the disorder will usually be classified as “other eating disorder”. The other group is used when a clinician decides that there is not enough sufficient information to make a clear diagnosis.



Treatment we offer

At Dr Jo Gee Psychotherapy, we always consider the best solution to provide the necessary aid and comfort. We offer support tailored to your needs for efficient and quick symptom relief. Our team of experts is dedicated to leading you towards the best outcome and supporting you on your journey with each step.

Our standard approach to treating eating disorders is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Some of the benefits of CBT are:

  • It gives you the necessary tools to see yourself for who you are as a whole and work on self-acceptance
  • It provides you with tools for replacing unhealthy and damaging habits with useful coping mechanisms
  • It has a structured approach and is short compared to other forms of therapy
  • It can successfully be combined with other treatments, including pharmacotherapy


Get in touch

Still not sure if you could benefit from our services? We offer a free 15-minute phone consultation at a time convenient for you. After that you can book a 50-75 minute assessment where you will have time to ask questions, share your therapy goals, discuss the possible outcomes, and build a personalized treatment plan with a member of our expert team. Your therapist will support you every step of the way, whether you opt for a short or a long-term plan.

If you would like to book an initial consultation, please message or call us, and we will get back to you as soon as possible.