About Eating Disorders
What is OSFED?
Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED) is characterized by eating disorder symptoms that cause significant distress and impair social or occupational functioning and/or have significant medical consequences, but do not meet the full diagnostic criteria for anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, or ARFID (Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder). Though individuals with OSFED fall outside the definitions of the other major eating disorders, this diagnosis nevertheless indicates that an individual is seriously ill.
What causes OSFED?
Like all eating disorders, OSFED develops over a period of time as a result of a complicated blend of genetic, biological, and environmental factors. There is no single cause to point to and, despite common misconceptions, families and communities of support are not to blame. In fact, they are often recovery’s strongest ally. Many individuals have genetic predispositions to eating disorders that, depending on environmental influences, may or may not be awakened over the course of their lifetime.
- Altered hunger and fullness signals
- Experiencing a traumatic event
- Genetic predisposition and societal pressures (e.g., drive for thinness)
- Abnormal brain circuitry and weakened food-related reward pathways
- Lack of environmental control and persistent, extreme stress, or minority stress
Our eating disorder treatment centers can be a place to heal and form new associations with food and your body.
What to Look For
Being familiar with the signs and symptoms of anorexia can help you champion early intervention and improve recovery rates for anorexia nervosa. Things to watch for include body checking, significantly restricting food intake, and/or extreme food rigidity that allows for only small quantities of certain foods. Associated disorders, or “comorbidities,” include obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, generalized anxiety disorder, and social phobia.
- People with anorexia often have a distorted perception of their body image and an intense fear of gaining weight.
- Extreme food restriction, obsessive calorie counting, frequent body and weight checking, and excessive or compulsive exercise can all be signs of anorexia.
- Hiding or throwing away food and/or skipping meals is commonly seen in people with anorexia.
- Rigidity or obsessiveness also often accompanies anorexia, as does an intense fear of food or a specific food.
- Cold intolerance, hair loss, and skin and nail discoloration are among the physical symptoms of anorexia.
- Atypical anorexia nervosa: Motivated by a fear of being overweight, an individual may lose a considerable amount of weight and remain at or above normal weight for their age, sex, developmental trajectory, and physical health. However, all other signs of anorexia nervosa are present.
- Bulimia nervosa (limited duration or low frequency): An individual engages in binge/purge behaviors associated with bulimia nervosa, but less than once a week and/or for less than three months
- Binge eating disorder (low frequency and/or limited duration): An individual binges less often than typically seen in binge eating disorder
- Purging disorder: An individual repeatedly engages in purging behaviors, but not in binging behaviors
- Night eating syndrome: Episodes of binge eating occur at night while an individual is in some stage of sleep
Physical Symptoms of OSFED
- Variability in body weight or significant weight changes.
- Interruptions in menstrual cycles for females.
- Reduced libido.
- More frequent illnesses, hinting at a compromised immune system.
- Evident damage from regular vomiting, noticeable as facial swelling, dental issues, and halitosis.
- Experiences of fainting or dizziness.
Behavioral Symptoms of OSFED
- Dieting behaviors like calorie counting, claiming new food intolerances, or avoiding certain food types.
- Denying having eaten.
- Social withdrawal or avoiding previously enjoyed activities.
- Eating in isolation or covertly, avoiding others during meals.
- Concealing or stockpiling food.
- Purging through vomiting.
- Chewing food and spitting it out without swallowing.
- Visiting the restroom frequently during or after meals.
- Increased involvement in food-related activities, such as planning and cooking, without consuming the food.
- Obsessive actions related to food, like slicing food finely or eating very slowly.
- Compulsive exercise, even when unwell or hurt.
- Utilization of laxatives, enemas, diuretics, or appetite suppressants.
- Constantly checking body appearance in mirrors or pinching body parts to check fat.
Psychological Symptoms of OSFED
- Obsession with eating, dieting, exercise, and body image.
- Reactivity to remarks about food, weight, diet, exercise, or body appearance.
- Experiencing guilt, shame, or revulsion, particularly after meals.
- Enhanced anxiety or agitation during meals.
- Distorted body perception or unhappiness with body’s appearance or specific body parts.
- Feelings of low self-worth, depression, anxiety, and thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
Long-term Effects of OSFED
- Gastrointestinal complications, including potential harm to the esophagus and stomach.
- Constipation and diarrhea.
- Potential kidney damage.
- Weakening of bones leading to osteoporosis.
- Hindered growth in adolescents.
- Infertility in both genders.
- Cardiac issues, such as irregular heart rhythms and hypotension.
Key Takeaways About OSFED
- Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED) is marked by eating disorder symptoms that cause significant distress and impairment but don’t fit the full criteria for other major eating disorders.
- OSFED arises from a complex mix of genetic, biological, and environmental factors, and there isn’t a single identifiable cause.
- Some triggers for OSFED include altered hunger and fullness signals, traumatic events, societal pressures, abnormal brain circuitry, and extreme stress.
- OSFED has various designations, such as atypical anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa of limited duration, binge eating disorder of limited frequency, purging disorder, and night eating syndrome.
- Early intervention and treatment for OSFED are crucial, and Veritas Collaborative offers a range of care programs tailored to individual needs.
Let Us Help You Recover
If you or a loved one are struggling with OSFED, don’t wait to reach out for help. The earlier eating disorders are treated, the better the outcomes tend to be.
At Veritas Collaborative, we work with you to create an individualized care plan so you or your child get the right treatment at the right time. We offer a full continuum of care, which includes inpatient, residential, partial hospitalization (PHP), intensive outpatient (IOP), outpatient, and virtual programs for children, adolescents, and adults. This allows us to provide best-in-class care and support throughout your recovery journey, even as your needs change. Our treatment programs focus on real-life skills, including hands-on nutrition and culinary experiences that you can take with you for lasting recovery. We encourage family involvement and offer family-based therapy and educational support for children and adolescents.