What is Bulimia Nervosa? (Was 307.51 now F50.2)

By David Joel Miller.

When eating and avoiding weight gain collide.

What is? Series

What is Bulimia Nervosa?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Bulimia Nervosa, Bulimia for short, is one of the feeding and eating disorders and is diagnosed about 4 times more often than Anorexia Nervosa according to the DSM-5. For the full description consult the DSM-5, what follows is my simple language version of this disorder and my experiences in seeing clients with these issues.

Women are ten times as likely to receive this diagnosis as men. Bulimia has three defining characteristics, “pigging out” and extreme measures to make up for that episode of excessive calorie intake as well as self-esteem or self-worth that is excessively based on weight and body type. These three characteristics make Bulimia sort of like Anorexia Nervosa on the one hand and Binge Eating Disorder on the other.

Pigging out is more than just liking to eat.

What makes the pigging-out or “binge eating” different in this disorder is the feeling of loss of control. In Bulimia the client will eat far more than would be normal and do this in a relatively short time. The official definition sets this time limit more or less at 2 hours.

So binge eating is not snacking all day or having a big appetite. It is loss of control over how much they eat and once they start the eating run it goes on until something interrupts the binge. Some have described these loss-of-control episodes as “spacing out” or dissociating. What they binge on can be very individual and can vary from episode to episode.

This loss of control is very similar to what we see in Substance Use Disorders. Turns out that about 30 % of those with Bulimia also develop a substance use disorder. Mostly this will be alcohol which is readily and legally available and can temporarily dissolve the guilt that comes from over eating. The other common drug of choice among many people with Bulimia is a stimulant use disorder. Start off on the “Jenny-Crank” diet to lose weight and you too may develop a Stimulant Use Disorder.

Once the guilt sets in you try to undo the binge.

Characteristic of Bulimia is the use of unhealthy ways of offsetting the excess calories consumed on the binge.  Those with Bulimia may force themselves to vomit to get rid of the over full felling and to lose weight. They also can try laxatives, water pills (diuretics) and extreme episodes of fasting. Those fasts by the way often end with another binge.

In Bulimia self-worth is based on weight.

All this pigging-out style over eating and then trying to make up by extreme measures is hard on the self-esteem and self-confidence. Those with Bulimia base their self-esteem and self-worth on their weight and or body. So when they put on weight they feel bad about themselves.

Bulimia is not something that just happens on Thanksgiving week.

To be defined as Bulimia we expect this person’s dance with overeating to go on for say three months or more and they will probably be binging at least once per week. In Bulimia the revolving pattern is binge, feel bad about yourself and then do the extreme measures to keep the weight off. The recurring story the person with Bulimia tells themselves is that if they were just thinner they would feel better about themselves and others would like them more. Unfortunately the only way to discharge the anxiety around food is with another binge and purge.

Which eating disorder is which?

Bulimia is separated from Anorexia mostly by the person’s body weight. In Anorexia they weigh significantly less than they should and are trying to stay that way or lose even more. In Bulimia the person weighs about normal or even a little beyond but they are defiantly not obese. In Bulimia them main difference is that they binge and then feel they have to do extreme measures to compensate. In Binge Eating Disorder there is still the binging and the feeling bad but no compensating behaviors.

For more on this and related topics see – Feeding and Eating Disorders.

FYI These “What is” sometimes “What are” posts are my efforts to explain terms commonly used in Mental Health, Clinical Counseling, Substance Use Disorder Counseling, Psychology, Life Coaching and related disciplines in a plain language way. Many are based on the new DSM-5, some of the older posts were based on the DSM-IV-TR, both published by the APA. For the more technical versions please consult the DSM or other appropriate references. See Recommended Books.  More “What is” posts will be found at What is.

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Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

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What is Anorexia Nervosa (307.1, F50.01 or F50.02)

By David Joel Miller.

Anorexia is an eating disorder that is about more than food.

What is? Series

What is?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Anorexia Nervosa, Anorexia for short, is one of the Feeding and Eating Disorders that are officially recognized as a mental disorder in the DSM-5. Anorexia has recognized “subtypes.” Like that of many other mental health disorders these subtypes may over time change enough that a person might get several different diagnoses during their life.

There have been several prominent people who have suffered from Anorexia and death is a possible outcome of this disease. This disorder affects women about ten times as often as it does men. Researchers and writers have compared this disorder to OCD and addiction. Similar pathways in the brain may be affected in all these conditions. More information on the alteration of the brains functioning in these disorders is likely to become available in the future.

The big three Anorexia symptoms.

There are three significant symptoms that professionals look for in diagnosing Anorexia. These include how the person with Anorexia sees their body, similar to the distortions we see in Body Dysmorphic Disorder. Also on the symptoms list is how the client feels about their body weight and lastly comes the result of this distorted body image and their altered feelings about body weight. This post as other posts on counselorssoapbox.com is my simplified, common language description. For the full text check out the DSM-5 by the APA.

People with Anorexia think they are fat even when the mirror disagrees.

It is common for those with Anorexia to report they dislike themselves because they are “fat” or over weight. They will persist in believing they are fat even when told by their doctor or other professional that their body weight falls below the minimum needed for health.

When asked about their weight they will often report that they need to lose a few pounds even when they are experiencing medical issues from malnutrition.

Some may only report that one part of their body is too large or misshapen. The solution to this oversized body part in their mind is extreme weight loss.

In Anorexia weight gain is more feared than death.

Someone who has Anorexia will demonstrate an extreme fear of gaining weight. They continue to assert that if they eat they will become “fat” and will go to extreme lengths to avoid weight gain.

A dislike of the self because of this distorted view of their body is common. Even when they know that this self-view is unrealistic they can’t seem to shake the belief that if they could just lose some more weight than they would be acceptable,

Using more calories than you take in is the continual goal.

Someone with Anorexia will attempt to reduce the calories taken in each day below the amount they need to maintain a normal weight. This is done not simply to prevent weight gain but to result in a loss of weight. This is nothing like typical dieting where the goals is to maintain a healthy weight. The goal here, presumably, is to continue to lose weight even when they are already thinner than a healthy weight.

Because of the two criteria above the person with Anorexia continues to think of themselves as fat and to fear any weight gain no matter how low the body weight may go.

In children or young adults this may manifest more as a failure to grow and put on weight during the growing years rather than a measurable loss of weight.

There are two recognized types of Anorexia, although this may change over time.

Restricting type Anorexia.

In this condition the person avoids taking in calories as much as possible. They may avoid eating around others, say they are full or not feeling well or otherwise try to avoid even a minimal amount of calories.

Binge eating and purging type Anorexia.

In this subtype of Anorexia Nervosa the person with Anorexia may give in to the look or taste of food and eat. When they do this it is like the alcoholic who just relapsed. Any food in site is fair game. But as soon as they have eaten, they are overcome with an intense fear of weight gain and guilt. At this point they will use extraordinary efforts to get rid of the unwanted calories.

These compensatory efforts may include purging, self-induced vomiting, or the use of laxatives to produce an intense diarrhea. Some will resort to strenuous exercise in an effort to atone for the eating binge.

The primary distinction between Anorexia and Bulimia Nervosa is that the person with Bulimia looks like they have a normal body weight. They may even be a few pounds over and they eat well, just they use the compensatory methods to avoid weight gain.  Those purging binges can damage their health. In Anorexia the risk is that the damage to health maybe more rapid and may result in death. More on Bulimia Nervosa in an upcoming What is. post

Risk factors for developing Anorexia include having currently or in the past had an Anxiety disorder, as well as cultures, occupations or activities that emphasize being thin.

FYI these recent “What is” posts are based on the new DSM-5, some of the older posts were based on the DSM-IV-TR, both published by the APA. The descriptions are largely my own plain language versions.

For more on this and related topics see – Feeding and Eating Disorders.

More “What is” posts will be found at What is.

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Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

Binging on food – Binge Eating

By David Joel Miller

Out of control eating is officially a mental illness.

Binge Eating

Binge Eating
Photo courtesy of Flickr (madprime)

With the advent of the DSM-5, Binge Eating Disorder (307.51 F50.8), is officially a recognized mental illness. Reading through the description of this newly recognized disorder it occurs to me that this is not what most non-professionals have been thinking of when they talk about people who overeat. What follows is my oversimplified explanation of how I understand this and how it might affect clients I see. For the full official description you would need to read the APA’s DSM-5 text.

Why does Binge Eating Disorder matter?

Given the APA’s estimates, the number of people in the U. S. who currently have or meet criteria for Binge Eating Disorder would run from 2 ½ to 5 MILLION people. A look at the criteria also indicates this is a lot more serious condition than we might first think. A lot of the criteria remind me of the features we see in alcoholism. This is more than just liking to eat. Binge Eating Disorder goes all the way to losing control.

First some things that do not appear to be included in the definition of Binge Eating Disorder and then the things that might define the disorder.

What Binge Eating Disorder is not:

Binge Eating disorder is not being overweight or obese.

We think that excess weight is a medical problem. There are a lot of reasons someone could be overweight or even obese that have nothing to do with binge eating. Mental Health and obesity have a lot of connections but Binge Eating Disorder is not the only one. (More on how mental illness may be making you overweight in an upcoming post.)

Binge Eating Disorder is not Holiday Eating.

That Thanksgiving dinner is a good reason to gorge yourself. It is almost Un-American to eat lightly on that holiday. Lots of family’s have other traditional family or holiday celebrations and food is a major part of that celebration. We do not count social eating events as Binge Eating Disorder even if after the holidays you find you have packed on some pounds.

Snacking all day is not Binge Eating Disorder.

Some people have told me that eating small amounts of food at many small meals a day is healthier than a few huge ones. I am also told that eating lots of food is healthy if you can do it all day long. (I am skeptical of that argument.) There was a time when low weight people died every winter and a fat baby was considered a healthy baby. Modern health care has severed that connection, but I know new parents often worry if their child is not gaining weight as rapidly as they expected.

Eating because you are chronically hungry is about poverty, famine or bad nutrition.

If someone is low in body weight and eats a lot that is probably not Binge Eating Disorder. If they are staying low body weight because they do other “compensating” behaviors that is a different kind of eating disorder most likely Bulimia Nervosa.

Eating frequently because you are growing, expending energy or just plain hungry is not Binge Eating Disorder. Binging is sneakier than that.

What factors do make it Binge Eating Disorder?

 The Binge eater feels badly when they do it.

People with Binge eating Disorder may eat alone so others do not see how much they eat. This behavior reminds me of the alcoholic sneaking drinks. The Binge Eater does not want others to see them binging. The may eat in solitary, hide the evidence and they feel guilty or ashamed of what they do.

Eventually that shame and or guilt become a separate problem that needs treatment and may be the thing that keeps the binging behavior going even if they want to stop.

Binge eaters lose control of their eating.

This loss of control takes many forms. The binge eater eats fast, very fast. They eat more than they want. They can’t stop eating even when they are over full. They may keep on eating to the point of feeling sick to their stomach.

One of the defining features of this disorder is the tendency to eat huge amounts of food in a short period of time. A binge eater will eat enough food for two or three people and do it in 2 hours of meal time or less.

Binge Eaters do these behaviors a lot.

This is not something that the binge eater does occasionally. To get this new diagnosis a person would need to binge at least 13 times over a three-month period.

The Binge Eating Disorder diagnosis allows for a range of severity.

The minimum is the 13 times in three months. Extreme Binge Eating Disorder is binging two times a day all 7 days a week. To meet the 3 month rule and have extreme Binge Eating Disorder would require over 180 episodes of binging with no compensating efforts to lose the calories.

Emotional Eating does not automatically count as a Binge.

Most counselors have heard clients describe times they “emotionally eat.” You have a fight with your partner and there goes the whole two gallons of ice cream. Those uses of food to make yourself feel better are more likely a part of depression, anxiety or that often overlooked but sometimes fatal Adjustment Disorder.

The Binge Eating conclusion?

If you are overweight or obese see your doctor and work on your physical health. If you occasionally use food like a drug to treat your emotional problems work on those problems. But if you find that you or someone you know is repeatedly binging on food, feels shame and guilt about this behavior or has lost control of how much they eat, it is time for some professional help.

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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at recommended books. 

What causes an eating disorder relapse?

By David Joel Miller.

Relapse PreventionCan we predict who will have an eating disorder relapse?

People who work in the recovery field are struggling to figure out how relapses on mental health issues are like and how they are different from relapses involving substance abuse.

Eating disorders are a strong example of that difference.

With substance abuse, most authorities think any return to using or drinking constitutes a relapse. Some authors have tried to differentiate a “Lapse,” a single case of starting to pick up followed by a decision not to return to active use, from a relapse.

Most recovering people are uncomfortable with the idea that any case of picking up can be excused. Rule one for their recovery is “Don’t pick up.” Still if you do relapse the sooner the return to recovery behaviors the better the chances.

With eating disorders we understand everyone needs to eat, many of us may worry about our weight and sometimes do something excessive to control that weight. To be a relapse on an eating disorder we think we need to see not just one incident but a return to the overall pattern of bad relationships with food.

That part of an eating disorder relapse is similar to relapse to other disorders. The relapse begins before the picking up or purging behaviors. It begins with changes of thinking and failure to maintain your recovery.

Four key factors appear to predict who will have an eating disorder relapse (Per McFarlane et al 2008.) These factors may have an application for other mental health challenges.

1. How bad was the eating disorder before treatment?

The more severely affected the person was the more it will take to change those behaviors. People who have been starving, binging or purging or even overeating for decades do not become cured overnight.

They may make significant progress in a short period of time but they will need a lot more time to consolidate those improvements if they have had the disease for a long time and the symptoms have gotten severe.

2. Higher level of eating disorder symptoms at end of treatment.

This makes intuitive sense. Someone still running a fever is at more risk than someone whose temperature has returned to normal to relapse into a physical health crisis.

The more the urges and cravings, the harder it will be to continue on the path to recovery and not lapse back into old behaviors.

Sometimes professionals are in too much of a rush to fix people and we may send them out of treatment before they are ready. With eating disorder symptoms the more there are and the larger the symptoms are the more the risk of relapse.

Pressure from managed care systems to cut costs is once source of the rush but there are others. Patients want to get this over with and get home. They often think they were cured when the professional known the symptoms are not even all gone yet.

3. Slow response to treatment predicts an eating disorder relapse.

Clients who enter a 28 day program need to hit the ground running. There is no time to waste. Unfortunately many are still not sure they want to change or that they really have a problem. In drug treatment it is not unusual for clients to avoid treatment for the first thirty days. Somewhere along the way they see others getting better and they want that result for themselves.

Eating disorder clients who do not start to make progress until three weeks into treatment will not be better, regardless of what that scale says, at the end of the 30 days.

Clients who are slow to respond to treatment need longer to consolidate gains and they are higher risk for relapse which means they need more support as the treatment frequency decreases.

4. Higher weight related self-evaluation predicts relapse.

When your idea of your self-worth is based on an outward characteristic, like weight, it is hard to give up any control over your eating no matter how slight the risk.

This whole area of self-evaluation is a cause of a lot of mental illness and just plain unhappiness. Learn to like yourself for who and what you are inside and anyone who only likes you for your outward appearance is not worth your time.

Selling people things is big business. Sell people on the need to have and eat certain foods, sell them on the joys of eating large and high calorie foods, make extra fat a standard menu item on fast food menus and you will make money. Then when we get done selling you high calorie food we tell you it is your fault that you have gained weight.

Don’t buy the yo-yo. Learn to eat healthy in the first place but accept that no one keeps that elementary school figure without giving up a lot of life.

There is a whole lot more inside you than what will show on the scale. The secret to happiness is in keeping your life in balance, not in winning the prize for self-deprivation.

People who think their self-worth is all about their weight will never get happy. Get happy first and you will like yourself regardless of your weight.

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Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

Mid-life and later life eating disorders?

By David Joel Miller.

Why are mid-lifers and seniors developing eating disorders?

Eating disorders have traditionally been thought of as diseases of adolescence and young adulthood. Recently we think we are seeing an increase in eating disorders of middle age and older adults. Are people first developing an eating disorder as adults and if so why?

The first eating disorder to be recognized and studied was anorexia. When someone weighs less than 85% of the “average” weight for their height and age they stand out. Consider also that those average weight charts cited in some of the research may date from 1959, when most people here in the U. S. were smaller than we are now.

Bulimia was not recognized as a separate disorder until very recently and the closer we look the more eating disorders we find. Currently a very large number of eating disorders are lumped together under the heading Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS). When the DSM-5 comes out next year (2013) there will be a whole new way of categorizing eating disorders and our understanding is likely to change.

Anorexia has long been thought of as a disease that first starts in adolescence or early adulthood. We thought it was brought on by a distorted body image or the influences of media emphasis on thinness. Anorexia is often a life long illness with relapses and can be fatal. We thought if you got out of your teen years without this illness you were home free.

We also thought that eating disorders were mostly a problem for women because of the emphasis of society on valuing women for their bodies. So when men began to be diagnosed with eating disorders this made us question what we knew about eating disorders. That change in thinking came slowly.

One study from a large European service reported in what they called a “definitive” study, that there were no cases of eating disorders that developed after age 26. I have left the name of the author of this report out from a sense of kindness. The trouble with the study was that they ended up, after looking at ten years of cases, with only eleven patients they were able to interview. Among those eleven were only one man, one person with Bulimia Nervosa and one person with EDNOS. They conclude that no one gets an eating disorder as an adult.

A study by a U. S. nonprofit of clients who were in treatment for an eating disorder in their midlife reported on a sample of 100 clients (Kally, Cumella, 2008.) They found significant incidences of late onset of an eating disorder and differences in why they may occur.

Kally & Cumella considered the question “Could these later life presentations just be people who always had the disorder but never got diagnosed and were just now reaching treatment?”

They conclude that eating disorders can and do first develop in midlife and beyond but for different reasons than those reported in samples of younger people.

They looked at three factors, background factors that predisposed the person to an eating disorder, the immediate precipitator or trigger for the episode and factors that maintain the disorder once it is established. What they found strikes me as having implications for eating disorder sufferers of all ages as well as pointing us in the direction of why more men are receiving the diagnosis these days.

The largest contributing factors they found (in my words not necessarily theirs) were a history of abuse or neglect, not just as children but at any age, and critical non-affirming people in their support system. Respondents reported that factors in the home they lived in were more important than some general societal message.

This agrees with the things many children have told me. They developed eating problems because a parent or sibling called them fat not because of some celebrities appearance. Family pressure to look a certain way, parents who controlled food or abuse substances, along with a history of abuse or neglect were some of the background reasons or risk factors for developing an eating disorder.

It takes more than a background risk factor to cause an eating disorder.

Most of the sample talked about a specific triggering event and the triggers were different for older onset cases. Children developed symptoms as a result of their family of origin problems. Those who develop eating disorders later were often triggered by events in their family of choice. So if you were abused or neglected as a child or your parents divorced you might get through the event without developing a psychiatric diagnosis. But if that sort of event happened to you as an adult, you get a divorce, then you might develop an eating disorder. People with the risk factor might show increased sensitivity to the same sort of event happening at a latter point in their life.

There are more differences between early onset and late onset eating disorders.

Adolescents are more likely to be triggered by their body image. This is the result of natural process of growth and development. The body changes and it can be uncomfortable. This is more likely if those in your house are unsupporting or critical.

Adults develop eating disorders because of changes in the family they have created. Divorce, separation and relationship conflicts are all triggers. As the rate of divorce increased so did the rate of adults with an eating disorder. Adults also can be triggered by health and medical issues. There was a time when there was no such thing as being too heavy. A baby who was chubby was referred to as healthy. As people live longer and become heavier we see more and more negative effects of excess weight.

Men also are feeling the effects of a shift in societal views. Overweight men are now expected to lose weight. People of both sexes have the increasing problem of weight gain caused by medications. More than ever before people are facing medication caused weight gain.

Children who were forced to diet early in life are more likely to develop a binge eating or overeating disorder in adulthood (Rubenstein, et al., 2010.) In adulthood the number of men who develop eating disorders begins to catch up with the number of women (Keel et al., 2010.)

The eating disorder conclusion.

Young people develop eating disorders because of a faulty or poor body image. Adults as they get older develop eating disorders because they do not like the changes in their bodies and in their life that ageing cause.

What are your thoughts about why mid-lifers and seniors are developing eating disorders?

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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

6 new Eating Disorder Traits

By David Joel Miller.

New eating disorders that did not make the cut.

Update.

The DSM-5 is out now. some of the proposed changes did not happen. The NEC became other specified and other unspecified. I have left this post up as it reflects the thinking in the field but for the latest official diagnostic criteria consult the new DSM-5.

Beginning in 2013 when the DSM-V appears the mental health diagnostic landscape will change. We have known for a long time that the current way of understanding Eating Disorders has left out a lot of people who had problems in their relationships with food and weight.

The old way of seeing things, that eating disorders consisted of Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia just didn’t fit the majority of people who a therapist might see who had problems around food and weight. In some outpatient clinics more people got the diagnosis of Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (NOS) than got a specific diagnosis. All that is about to change.

One way of cutting down on the overuse of a diagnosis is to just delete it. The Eating Disorder NOS will suffer this fate.

The new label will be Eating Disorder Not Elsewhere Classified (NEC.) The difference will be the creation of 6 new “types” or conditions. This is similar to the way we have been doing Personality Disorder symptoms that are not quite severe enough to be full disorders, we just call them “traits.”

The new conditions, in my order of explanation not the APA’s order are:

A. Purging disorder

This will require that they purge to lose weight but will not include binging behaviors. This separates Purging Disorder from Bulimia.

B. Night Eating Syndrome

People who do this get upset about it; upset enough to go for treatment so I think this one is an improvement. The current description reminds me of cravings associated with addiction or impulse control problems.

With Night Eating Syndrome you wake up, you eat and you remember eating. It is not the same as emotional eating. After the night eating you get upset about this behavior. The episode is not the result of changes in your sleep or eating pattern.

C. Atypical Anorexia Nervosa

In this condition the person does everything a person with anorexia does but their weight does not drop below the magic 85% of normal. Hope the APA gives us some more to go on here. I can see how separating this from Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake disorder might be confusing.

D. Subthreshold Bulimia Nervosa

Same as Bulimia Nervosa but they don’t do the binging and compensating behaviors as often or for as long. The efforts to compensate for binging are less than once per week and/or last less than 3 months. This reminds me of depression with mild, moderate and severe categories.

E. Subthreshold Binge Eating Disorder

Like Binge Eating Disorder but not often enough or over a long enough period of time to be sure it is Binge Eating Disorder. The binges are less than once per week and/or last less than 3 months.

F. Other Feeding or Eating Condition Not Otherwise Classified

This is a place to put anything that does not fit another eating diagnosis but needs attention. As a result of all the changes in the DSM-5, new diagnoses, the conditions listed under not otherwise classified and the inclusion of some childhood things that used to be separated from eating disorders there will be a whole lot less ending up here. Effectively this should empty out all those miscellaneous NOS diagnoses.

Other posts about eating disorders and the new DSM-V proposals will be found at:

Binge Eating Disorder – the other side of Anorexia and Bulimia 

Middle class and starving to death in America – An Eating Disorder called Anorexia

Love Hate relationship with food – Bulimia Nervosa

Eating Disorders and Substance abuse  

Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder

Do any of these eating disorder traits fit you or someone you know?  Feel free to leave a comment. If any problem with weight or eating is affecting your job, relationships or making you unhappy, consider seeing a professional.

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Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder

Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder vs. Anorexia and Bulimia.

How is Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFIDO) different from all those eating disorders people have come to know? And did we really need another eating disorder diagnosis?

Proposed for the new DSM-V and looking like a for-sure new recognized eating disorder is ARFIDO.  ARFIDO has some differences from past eating disorders. Given the many possible bad relationships with food people could become involved with, my take is yes this one is different from either Anorexia Nervosa or Bulimia and it has been needed for some time.

The way we have been looking at eating disorders has had some flaws for a while now. McFarland et al in 2008 wrote an interesting article on eating disorder relapse. The topic of relapse and relapse prevention has been an important part of substance abuse treatment for a long time. Recently we have been looking at the issue of relapse related to mental health issues.

In his article McFarland reported that they ended up including all the people with an eating disorder in the relapse study because people with an eating disorder move between disorders often enough to prevent saying someone has one and only one eating disorder.

We also are told in this article that the majority of people in treatment  for an eating disorder, up to 60% of those treated in outpatient, did not meet the criteria for one of the official diagnosis and ended up in the left over category Eating Disorder Not otherwise specified (NOS).

Creating a new disorder (ARFIDO) is supposed to reduce the number of people who were ending up in that vague NOS land.

People with ARFIDO are different from those with anorexia nervosa or bulimia in several important ways. (I have taken liberties with the new DSM-V criteria here for sake of explanation.)

1. They do not have the characteristic distorted body image.

Ask a person with anorexia what they think about their current weight and they will tell you they are fat. Show them their reflection in the mirror, bones sticking out and all and they will still say they look fat. They see themselves at fat and no facts, not even the scale and the standard weight charts, will change that perception.

People with ARFIDO do not necessarily think they are fat.

They know they are thin, abnormally thin, but they like it that way. They become proud of their ability to stay thinner than most. They will keep up the dieting even when they know they are developing a health problem or nutritional deficiency because they like being one of the thin ones.

2. They don’t especially like food, food is the enemy.

People with ARFIDO will avoid many or all foods. They may need to resort to nutritional supplements to keep their weight above the critical go-to-hospital point.

3. They avoid putting on weight as they grow or in adulthood lose excessive amounts of weight.

They will continue avoiding food even when they know they are making themselves sick by their intentional starvation.  Like Pieter Pan they do not want to grow up or get larger.

4. This is not the result of starvation or lack of resources. People with ARFIDO do this on purpose. The will harm their health to look thin while living in a home with a full refrigerator.

5. Because they are so good at avoiding eating, people with ARFIDO do not have the need for the extreme measures we see in Anorexia Nervosa or Bulimia.

That is my understanding of this new diagnostic category at the current point in time. The new DSM will be out early next year and we can all get the full details then.

The update I read at the APA site was May 14-2012. They also note that when this is all done they expect there to be three sub types of ARFIDO, A People who do not eat and are not interested in eating B People who will only eat food with certain sensory characteristics,  C People who won’t eat because of an aversive experience.

Other posts about eating disorders and the new DSM-V proposals will be found at:

Binge Eating Disorder – the other side of Anorexia and Bulimia 

Middle class and starving to death in America – An Eating Disorder called Anorexia

Love Hate relationship with food – Bulimia Nervosa

Eating Disorders and Substance abuse  

So do you think that this creation of ARFIDO will improve recognition of poorly recognized eating disorders? Do you believe you or someone you know has had an episode of Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder? If you recovering from or have you had a relapse to Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder would you care to leave a comment?

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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books