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
- 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