What is Eating Disorder not Otherwise Specified?
Having an Eating Disorder not Otherwise Specified (ED-NOS) can mean a number of things. It can mean the individual suffers from Anorexia but still gets her period. It can mean having an average healthy weight, but suffering from Anorexia. It can also mean the sufferer equally participates in some Anorexic as well as Bulimic behaviors.
People are frequently confused (including doctors) about the real differences between Anorexia and Bulimia. Anorexia essentially being self-starvation, and Bulimia being defined as going through binge and purge cycles, and often times know nothing at all about Binge-Eating Disorder.
For example, a doctor relies completely on his diagnostic manuals and reads the criteria to diagnose an individual as having Anorexia. He finds that his patient has regularly practiced self-starvation techniques, thinks of herself unrealistically as overweight, and seems to be hard on herself, but she still has her monthly period (the diagnostic criteria states that there must be loss of monthly menstrual cycles). He may technically diagnose the patient as having "An Eating Disorder not Otherwise Specified".
Another example would be that of a person suffering through binge and purge cycles once a week, who feels that they are overweight and who feels depressed. (The diagnostic criteria states that the sufferer must binge and purge, on average, at least twice a week.)
Practically speaking, in the first example the person suffers from Anorexia and the second suffers from Bulimia. Clinically speaking, according to the "text book" they would suffer from "An Eating Disorder not Otherwise Specified". In either case, both people are suffering with an Eating Disorder, both are in danger of potentially deadly physical complications, and both need to make a choice for recovery.
The most important thing to remember is that Eating Disorders, Anorexia, Bulimia, Compulsive Overeating, Binge-Eating Disorder, any combination of them, (or any that fall into the clinical category of EDNOS), are all psychological illnesses, none less or more serious than the next. They all have their physical dangers and complications, they all present themselves through an array of disordered eating patterns in one way or another, and they all stem from emotional turmoil such as a low self-esteem, a need to forget feelings and/or stress, a need to block pain, anger and/or people out, and most of all, a need to cope. The bottom line is that we are all suffering. If you find you suffer from any Eating Disorder then it's time to reach in to yourself.
The following is considered the "text book" definition of an Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified, to assist doctors in making a clinical diagnosis... it is in no way representative of what a sufferer feels or experiences in living with an Eating Disorder. It is important to note that this is a Clinical definition, and is in no way meant to say that any sufferer does not struggle, and that the condition is not serious. It is not meant to say you do not have Anorexia or Bulimia (or a combination of both sometimes known as Bulimirexia). This is a clinical category of disordered eating meant for those who suffer but do not meet all the diagnostic criteria for another specific disorder.
- All of the criteria for Anorexia Nervosa are met except the individual has regular menses.
- All of the criteria for Anorexia Nervosa are met except that, despite substantial weight loss, the individual's current weight is in the normal range.
- All of the criteria for Bulimia Nervosa are met except binges occur at a frequency of less than twice a week or for a duration of less than 3 months.
- An individual of normal body weight who regularly engages in inappropriate compensatory behavior after eating small amounts of food (eg, self-induced vomiting after the consumption of two cookies).
- An individual who repeatedly chews and spits out, but does not swallow, large amounts of food.
- Binge eating disorder; recurrent episodes of binge eating in the absence of the regular use of inappropriate compensatory behaviors characteristic of bulimia nervosa.