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Conditions We Treat

The Johns Hopkins Eating Disorders Program

Frequency Asked Questions About Eating Disorders

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is a form of self-starvation and a very serious psychiatric disorder with elevated mortality and risk of long-term medical consequences. Affected people continue to view themselves as needing to lose weight or fear gaining weight despite being very underweight. Signs and symptoms may include:

  • Rapid weight loss
  • Obsessive preoccupation with food, calories and the desire to lose weight
  • Excessive dissatisfaction with body shape and weight
  • A decrease in variety and amount of food eaten
  • Skipping meals and avoiding eating with others
  • Excessive exercise
  • Self-induced vomiting or chewing and spitting out food
  • Abuse of laxatives, diuretics or diet pills
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Other serious health consequences can include depressed mood, fractures and heart problems.

Learn more about treatment of anorexia nervosa at Johns Hopkins

Learn about a research study on anorexia nervosa at Johns Hopkins

Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia nervosa is characterized by intermittent consumption of large quantities of food followed by compensation for this binge eating behavior by unhealthful means to avoid weight gain. Unlike in anorexia nervosa, affected persons are usually normal weight or may be overweight. Warning signs and symptoms include:

  • Rapidly eating large amounts of food, often alone or secretively (binge-eating)
  • A sense of loss of control over eating
  • Excessive dissatisfaction with body shape and weight
  • Feelings of shame and secrecy concerning bulimic behaviors
  • Self-induced vomiting or intermittent starvation
  • Excessive exercise
  • Abuse of laxatives, diuretics, or diet pills

Learn more about treatment of bulimia nervosa at Johns Hopkins

Learn about a research study on bulimia nervosa at Johns Hopkins

Binge-eating Disorder

Binge-eating disorder, like bulimia, is associated with the rapid consumption of food and with a sense of loss of control over eating but does not include the compensatory behaviors (such as vomiting, excessive exercise or abuse of laxatives, diuretics, or diet pills) used by bulimics to prevent weight gain. Symptoms include:

  • Fear of loss of control over eating
  • Bingeing
  • Feelings of shame and self-loathing
  • Poor self-esteem

Learn more about treatment of bing-eating disorders at Johns Hopkins

Atypical Eating Disorders

Atypical eating disorders include a number of conditions that may be associated with any of the following:

  • Unexplained vomiting or weight loss
  • Unexplained pain that interferes with eating.
  • Fear of swallowing or choking or other physical complaints that prevent eating
  • Eating rituals and extremely picky eating
  • Rumination (regurgitation or re-chewing of food)
  • Unexplained food intolerances or allergies

Learn more about treatment of atypical eating disorders at Johns Hopkins

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