- Mental Health
Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS Symptoms)
What Is EDNOS?
Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified, or EDNOS, is a mental illness characterized by disordered eating patterns. Possibly the most common eating disorder, it is an umbrella diagnosis that encompasses all eating disordered persons who meet some, but not all, of the criteria for anorexia or bulimia nervosa.
EDNOS frequently goes undiagnosed, due to the stigma around eating disorders, as well as the misconceptions and myths that surround the common understanding of these deadly diseases. Nevertheless, EDNOS is extremely dangerous, resulting in dangerous, and sometimes disastrous, health problems that can lead to permanent damage, or even death.
Since the signs and symptoms of EDNOS vary depending on the individual's area of struggle, it is difficult to define the disorder in terms of hard-and-fast rules for diagnosis. The DSM-IV does provide several examples of situations in which a doctor might give a patient a label of "eating disorder not otherwise specified," listed below:
(For clarification, see first "The Signs and Symptoms of Eating Disorders.")
1. All of the criteria for anorexia nervosa are met except the individual has regular menses (periods).
2. All of the criteria for anorexia nervosa are met except that, despite substantial weight loss, the individual's current weight is in the normal range.
3. All of the criteria for bulimia nervosa are met except binges occur at a frequency of less than twice a week or for a duration of less than 3 months.
4. An individual of normal body weight who regularly engages in inappropriate compensatory behavior after eating small amounts of food (eg, self-induced vomiting after the consumption of two cookies).
5. An individual who repeatedly chews and spits out, but does not swallow, large amounts of food.
6. Binge eating disorder; recurrent episodes of binge eating in the absence of the regular use of inappropriate compensatory behaviors characteristic of bulimia nervosa.
"Other" Eating Disorders
There are still other eating disorders not currently meritting mention in the DSM-IV, even under the bredth of the EDNOS category. To give you an idea, a few of these are listed below. (If there are specific others you have heard of and would like more information about, please let me know.)
Orthorexia is term coined by Dr. Steven Bratman, who wrote a book about the struggles he recognized in himself and patients in his medical practice. "Orthorexia" literally means "fixation on righteous eating." Though not fully recognized by the medical community as a valid diagnosis, orthorexia consists of a fanaticism towards healthy eating, in which the individual spends considerable time and effort in an attempt to "perfect" his or her diet.
Night Eating Syndrome is a variation of binge eating disorder involving the consumption of a large amount of food, usually carbohydrate- and sugar-rich, in the evening and night hours of the day. People who suffer from NES take in more than half of their calories after midday, and sometimes skip morning and noon meals, either out of guilt, or simply because they are too full from the previous night's intake. NES is not to be confused with nocturnal sleep-related eating disorder, which is a parasomnia, rather than an eating disorder.
It cannot be stressed enough how serious eating disorders are, in all their various forms, but the good news is: eating disorders are treatable!!! If you or someone you love may struggle with an eating disorder, visit the National Eating Disorder Association's website or Something Fishy for a referral. In addition, more information on eating disorders and body image can be found on the links below.