Veritas Blog

Join the conversation

Through advocacy work, community and professional events, and media outreach, Veritas is helping to bring cutting-edge research, best-practice care, and scientifically backed information into the national eating disorder conversation. Here in our blog you can learn about the work we and others are doing to advance the understanding and treatment of eating disorders. You’ll also find interesting articles and helpful insights that can support you or a loved one on the journey to lasting recovery. We want to hear your story. Email us (blog@veritascollaborative.com) and ask how you can become a contributor!

Co-Occurring Disorders

About Eating Disorders

Co-Occurring Disorders

Eating disorders often occur alongside a spectrum of other psychiatric and developmental disorders. While this can complicate treatment, understanding these relationships is critical to sustainable recovery.

Common Co-Occurring Disorders

Certain eating disorders occur more often and can lead to a dual diagnosis with certain other psychiatric and developmental disorders. In general, comorbidities include:

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Major depressive disorder (MDD)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Bipolar I and II disorders
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Cognitive disorders

Read more

Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder

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. 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

What to Look For

Being familiar with the signs and symptoms generally associated with eating disorders can help you champion early intervention and recovery.

  • Gaining or losing weight
  • Preoccupation with weight, food, appearance, and calorie counting
  • Excessive physical activity
  • Change in school or work performance
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Mood changes, depression, anxiety, and social isolation
  • Frequent standing, pacing, and fidgeting
  • Fatigue, fainting, dizziness, and lightheadedness

OSFED Designations

  • 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

Read more

Bulimia Nervosa

About Eating Disorders

What is Bulimia Nervosa?

Bulimia nervosa is characterized by recurrent binge eating episodes and persistent, inappropriate compensatory behaviors with the hope of avoiding weight gain. Binge eating episodes involve eating, in a discrete period of time, an amount of food that is objectively larger than most individuals would eat in a similar period of time under similar circumstances. The episodes are accompanied by feelings of self-loathing, disgust, or guilt and a sense of lack of control. Individuals engage in often dangerous compensatory behaviors that may include purging, fasting, compulsive exercise, and/or the use of laxatives or diuretics. Individuals with bulimia nervosa may appear healthy, even though they are very ill. Additionally, their self-concept is unduly influenced by body weight and shape.

What Causes Bulimia Nervosa?

Like all eating disorders, bulimia nervosa 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 bulimia nervosa that, depending on environmental influences, may or may not be awakened over the course of their lifetime. Communities of color are disproportionately affected by bulimia nervosa.

  • Malnutrition-induced changes in physiological processes and altered hunger and fullness signals
  • Experiencing a traumatic event
  • Genetic predisposition and societal pressures (e.g., drive for thinness)
  • Lack of environmental control and persistent, extreme stress, or minority stress

What to Look For

Being familiar with the signs and symptoms can help you champion early intervention and recovery through bulimia nervosa treatment. Watch for elusive behaviors around mealtimes, inflammation around the mouth and knuckles, exercise-routine rigidity, hiding food, and/or immediately going to the bathroom after a meal. Associated disorders, or “comorbidities,” include major depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar I and II disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and substance use disorder.

  • Inappropriate conflation of body weight and shape with identity
  • Distorted body image and fear of weight gain
  • Eating alone or in secret and consistent retreats after meals
  • Extreme exercise-routine rigidity, refusal to hydrate, and overuse injuries
  • Abrasions or scars on knuckles, inflammation around mouth, burst blood vessels in eyes

Risks of Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia nervosa can have extreme medical and physiological consequences that may or may not resolve completely during recovery.

  • Dangerous and lethal electrolyte imbalances
  • Impaired decision-making and impulse control
  • Delayed wound healing
  • Tooth decay, muscle fatigue, and irregular bowel activity
  • Heart palpitations, low pulse, and blood pressure
  • In males: decreased frequency of erections and nocturnal emissions
  • In females: polycystic ovarian syndrome, endometrial cancer, amenorrhea, difficulty conceiving, and if pregnant, increased risk for miscarriage and postpartum depression

Read more

About Eating Disorders

About Eating Disorders

We’re changing the conversation.

Eating disorders are not a choice. Despite common misconceptions, eating disorders can affect anyone regardless of gender, age, race, ethnicity, body shape or weight, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status. They are complex, psychiatric illnesses stemming from a variety of genetic, biological, and environmental factors. There is no single cause to point to or to blame. Eating disorders impact over 30 million persons in the United States alone.

What is an Eating Disorder?

An eating disorder diagnosis is a mental and physical health crisis that disrupts personal, family, and community functioning for individuals as young as 6 years old. Many individuals will suffer for years or tens of years before seeking treatment—and even then may seek help only for the medical consequences, which not all providers will accurately attribute to an eating disorder. As such, eating disorders are often misdiagnosed. Early detection and intervention are critical components of a complete recovery. Unfortunately, culturally sanctioned misconceptions about food, weight, and diets, combined with the stigma associated with seeking treatment for any mental health disorder, often delay diagnosis and impede access to care. Eating disorders can be life-threatening, but they don’t have to be. Help us change the conversation around eating disorders and champion honest discussion, compassion, and early intervention.

Anorexia Nervosa

Persons with anorexia nervosa may see themselves as overweight, even when they are dangerously underweight.

What to look for:

Frequent body/weight/mirror checking, severely restricted food intake, and/or extreme diet rigidity that only allows for small quantities of certain foods

Learn more

Bulimia Nervosa

Individuals with bulimia nervosa may appear healthy, even though they are very ill, and are unduly influenced by body weight and shape in terms of self-evaluation.

What to look for:

Elusive behaviors around meal times, extreme exercise-routine rigidity, inflammation around an individual’s mouth and knuckles, and delayed wound healing

Learn more

Binge Eating Disorder (BED)

Individuals with binge eating disorder may experience an array of extreme, negative emotions around food, mealtimes, and eating.

What to look for:

Binge-eating episodes that are not associated with inappropriate compensatory behaviors, but are associated with feelings of lack of control or self-loathing and occur, on average, at least once a week for three months

Learn more

Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED)

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 to look for:

A preoccupation with weight, food, appearance, and/or calorie counting; sudden/frequent mood changes; frequent standing, pacing, and/or fidgeting; and/or excessive participation in physical activity

Learn more

Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)

Individuals with ARFID may experience extreme emotional dysregulation and anxiety around meal times, have a fear of vomiting or choking, and/or undergo thorough testing for chronic abdominal pain with no satisfactory findings.

What to look for:

Dysregulated emotions around meal times, significant weight loss, and/or a failure to meet nutritional needs and growth trajectories

Learn more

Co-Occurring Disorders

Eating disorders often occur alongside a spectrum of other psychiatric and developmental disorders. Taking an individual’s primary diagnosis into account when considering treatment is critical to their long-term recovery.

What to look for:

Regular displays of emotions that do not fall within a generally acceptable range of emotive responses

Learn more

Read more

Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder

About Eating Disorders

What is ARFID?

Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) is characterized by a persistent failure to meet appropriate nutritional and/or energy needs as a result of eating or feeding disturbances such as an apparent lack of interest in food, avoidance due to the sensory qualities of food, and/or concern over adverse consequences of eating food. These disturbances are not associated with distorted body image or body dissatisfaction, but are associated with significant weight loss or faltering growth/developmental patterns (in children and adolescents); dependence on enteral feeding or oral nutritional supplements; and/or marked interference with psychosocial functioning. These disturbances cannot be better explained by a lack of food, cultural practices, or a concurrent medical condition or mental disorder. Individuals with ARFID may experience extreme emotional dysregulation and anxiety around mealtimes, have a fear of vomiting or choking, and/or undergo thorough testing for chronic abdominal pain with no satisfactory findings.

What causes ARFID?

Like all eating disorders, avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder 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 ARFID that, depending on environmental influences, may or may not be awakened over the course of their lifetime. The mean age of diagnosis is 11 years; however, symptoms may present in infancy or early childhood.

  • Malnutrition-induced changes in physiological processes and 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
  • Temperamental traits
  • Anxiety

What to Look For

Being familiar with the signs and symptoms can help you champion early intervention and recovery through ARFID treatment. Watch for dysregulated emotions around mealtimes, significant weight loss, and a failure to meet nutritional needs and growth trajectories. Associated disorders, or “comorbidities,” include anxiety disorders, autism spectrum disorders, and cognitive disorders.

  • Weight loss and nutritional deficiencies
  • Failure to meet growth trajectories
  • Emotional dysregulation and high anxiety around mealtimes
  • Chronic abdominal pain lacking an apparent cause
  • Fears or phobias around illness, choking, or vomiting
  • Neutral or positive body image

Risks of ARFID

ARFID can have extreme medical and physiological consequences that may or may not resolve completely during recovery.

  • Cognitive impairment
  • Delayed puberty or dysregulation of reproductive hormones
  • Impaired brain functioning and signaling
  • Weakened food-related reward pathways
  • Chronic abdominal pain, fatigue, and headaches

Read more

Binge Eating Disorder

About Eating Disorders

What is Binge Eating Disorder?

Binge eating disorder is characterized by recurrent binge eating episodes that are accompanied by marked distress, a sense of lack of control, and feelings of self-loathing, disgust, or guilt. These episodes involve eating, in a discrete period of time, an amount of food that is objectively larger than what most individuals would eat in a similar period of time, under similar circumstances. Binge eating episodes are associated with eating much more rapidly than normal and/or until uncomfortably full; eating large amounts of food when not feeling physically hungry; and/or eating alone due to embarrassment about the amount one is eating. Unlike bulimia nervosa, these binge episodes are not followed by compensatory behaviors.

What Causes Binge Eating Disorder?

Like all eating disorders, binge eating disorder 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 binge eating disorder that, depending on environmental influences, may or may not be awakened over the course of their lifetime. Binge eating disorder is the most common eating disorder in the United States and the most prevalent eating disorder among males. The mean age of onset for the disorder is 18 years and the vast majority of individuals who are diagnosed with binge eating disorder also struggle with psychiatric, mood, or anxiety disorders, and/or impulse control and substance use.

  • Malnutrition-induced changes in physiological processes and altered hunger and fullness signals
  • Experiencing a traumatic event
  • Genetic predisposition and societal pressures (e.g., drive for thinness)
  • Lack of environmental control and persistent, extreme stress, or minority stress

What to Look For

Being familiar with the signs and symptoms can help you champion early intervention and recovery through binge eating disorder treatment. Watch for binge eating episodes that are not associated with compensatory behaviors, but are associated with feelings of lack of control or self-loathing and occur, on average, at least once a week for three months. Associated disorders, or “comorbidities,” include major depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar I and II disorder, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

  • Binge eating episodes that occur one or more times a week
  • Marked distress around binge eating episodes
  • Avoiding mealtimes and eating alone or in secret
  • Feelings of lack of control, guilt, shame, self-loathing, or disgust around food or eating

Risks of Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating disorder can have extreme medical and physiological consequences that may or may not resolve completely during recovery.

  • Chronic pain including headaches, back, and neck pain
  • Diabetes and hypertension
  • In males: decreased frequency of erections and nocturnal emissions
  • In females: polycystic ovarian syndrome, endometrial cancer, and difficulty conceiving

Read more

Anorexia Nervosa

About Eating Disorders

What is Anorexia Nervosa?

Anorexia nervosa is characterized by an inability to eat enough food to maintain weight and/or growth trajectories; exceptionally low body weight; an obsessive concern with weight gain; and a distorted body image. The disorder has two subtypes and can involve both severe restriction of food intake and binge/purge behaviors. The median age of onset is 12 years old and falling; the disorder has been diagnosed in individuals as young as six. Anorexia nervosa can be life-threatening, with mortality often associated with cardiac complications and suicide.

What causes Anorexia Nervosa?

Like all eating disorders, anorexia nervosa 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 anorexia nervosa that, depending on environmental influences, may or may not be awakened over the course of their lifetime.

  • Abnormal brain circuitry and weakened food-related reward pathways
  • Malnutrition-induced changes in physiological processes and altered hunger and fullness signals
  • Genetic predispositions and psychological characteristics such as a drive for perfection
  • Environmental factors such as trauma
  • Culturally sanctioned drive for thinness

What to Look For

Being familiar with the signs and symptoms 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.

  • Obsessive calorie-counting and body, weight, and mirror-checking
  • Distorted body image and fear of weight gain
  • Hiding or throwing away food or skipping meals
  • Extreme food restriction and exercise routines
  • Rigidity or obsessiveness
  • Intense fear of food or of a specific food

Risks of Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa can have extreme medical and physiological consequences that may or may not resolve completely during recovery.

  • Electrolyte imbalances, congestive heart failure, and sudden death
  • Impaired decision-making and impulse control
  • Cold intolerance, hair loss, and skin and nail discoloration
  • Osteoporosis and easy bruising/bruising along spine
  • Growth of lanugo, or fine white hair all over body
  • In males: Decreased frequency of erections and nocturnal emissions
  • In females: Amenorrhea, difficulty conceiving, and if pregnant, increased risk for miscarriage, low birth weight, and postpartum depression

Read more

Recovery Starts Here

If you have questions about anything - eating disorders, our programs, specific needs or concerns - or you'd like to schedule an initial phone assessment or a comprehensive in-person medical assessment, please give us a call or complete our contact form. Our admissions team is here to help.

Veritas Collaborative Logo