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Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS Symptoms)

Updated on March 8, 2011

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.

Diagnostic Criteria

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.


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    • girishpuri profile image

      Girish puri 4 years ago from NCR , INDIA

      Great information, people don't realize but they suffer, an eye opener hub.

    • austere125rivers profile image

      austere125rivers 6 years ago from Montreal Canada

      Great info, I would like to add my two cents here. Some of eating disorders episodes are caused by caffeine and alcohol. A good natural solution is the start excerpting, physical activity can redress serotonin level, the main source of depression and eating disorder.

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 7 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Great information, depressing but important. I can imagine that there are many out there that do go undiagnoised. Unfortunately if they don't admit what they are doing it can be very difficult to pinpoint the problem. great hub

    • profile image

      Ana&Mia. 7 years ago

      i have ednos... this is very helpful.. you rarely hear about ednos .

    • profile image

      Ciara 7 years ago

      It's interesting to see that EDNOS is not taken as seriously as anorexia or bulimia. I have myself been diagnosed with EDNOS. It is every bit as terrifying and emotional destructive as anorexia or bulimia. I have basically recovered from it. But it never goes way. It is always there at the back of your mind. Waiting, for a time to come out again.

    • profile image

      allisonrenee 8 years ago

      Ive struggled with ednos since i was 9 years old. the purging increased to everyday over the past 2 years. i am in recovery.

      ednos is a real ED. and everybit as serious as being ana or mia.

    • andy_bacon profile image

      andy_bacon 8 years ago from Near Pacific Ocean

      Great Hubb Maddie,

      There really seems to be a lot of mental issues surrounding out current obesity epidemic. I hope we start to realize that it is not just a matter of obese people saying no to food.

      Thank you for the resource.

    • profile image

      Me 9 years ago

      Explains what I had. Thanks so much.

    • amy jane profile image

      amy jane 9 years ago from Connecticut

      This is a very informative hub, Maddie, thank you for sharing this helpful information. :)

    • profile image

      JB 10 years ago

      valuable info, thanks