Helpful Information About All Types of Eating Disorders


Ultimate Guide of Eating Disorder Awareness and How to Get Help

Chapter 1

Ultimate Guide of Eating Disorder Awareness and How to Get Help

Identifying the Types of Eating Disorders

Chapter 2

Identifying the Types of Eating Disorders

About Anorexia Nervosa

Chapter 3

About Anorexia Nervosa

About Binge Eating Disorder

Chapter 4

About Binge Eating Disorder

About Bulimia Nervosa

Chapter 5

About Bulimia Nervosa

More Information About Eating Disorders

Chapter 6

More Information About Eating Disorders

Treating Eating Disorders

Chapter 7

Treating Eating Disorders

Chapter 1:

Ultimate Guide of Eating Disorder Awareness and How to Get Help

In our society, there are countless women who are faced with the effects of eating disorders. These disorders affect the way women think, feel, behave, and treat themselves.

Often, the people in our communities are not sure what an eating disorder is while others succumb to common myths about these issues. It’s true that there are a lot of false ideas when it comes to eating disorders. Many people assume that women who are dealing with these disorders are only characterized by extreme weight loss. But, the truth is that eating disorders are much more complex than that. There are multiple types of eating disorders and each one presents its own characteristics and effects.

Since there are different kinds of eating disorders and they impact people in various ways, it’s important to know more about them and how they can be treated. Once an eating disorder is identified, women can begin to understand the need for support through treatment. And, start to look for qualified organizations to help them begin the journey toward a life of freedom from eating disorders.

Here at The Willow Place for Women, we offer comprehensive support for women struggling with eating disorders. Our program, that is designed and developed by women in recovery, offers a number of supportive and proven techniques. In offering these tools to these women, we help them establish healthier mindsets and develop education about their issue. This way, they can learn to develop a successful life with healthy behaviors.

To help women who may be struggling with various eating disorders, we’ve come up with this Ultimate Guide for Eating Disorder Awareness. By offering helpful educational resources, we hope to reach more women who may need support in establishing a life of eating disorder recovery. And, provide the education needed to make an informed decision about getting the help they need.


If you or a loved one may be struggling with an eating disorder, keep reading to find if you are experiencing any of the symptoms of the four most common eating disorders expanded upon below in this guide. And, if you find that you need help, contact The Willow Place for Women today to speak with an experienced specialist confidentially. 

Chapter 2:

Identifying the Types of Eating Disorders

What exactly is an eating disorder? What does it mean to have one? Well, an eating disorder is a psychological disorder. This is one of the most important things to understand when it comes to these disorders. That’s because many individuals misunderstand just how serious these issues are.

Ultimate Guide for Eating Disorders | Willow Place for WomenIt’s easy to believe that people who have eating disorders can just stop having the problem. Yes, people who have an eating disorder deal with unhealthy and abnormal eating habits. But, these psychological disorders don’t just affect the way a person eats. They also impact the way a person feels and thinks. And, affect a person’s physical health as a result of the number of consequences eating disorders can lead to. Because of these negative effects that can impact every aspect of life, it’s even more important to identify and address these issues.

Fortunately, identifying eating disorders can be done by identifying these symptoms of eating disorders. But, because of the negative stigma that surrounds eating disorders and those affected by them, it may be difficult to identify an eating disorder in your life. And, may be even more difficult to muster up the courage to ask for help; regardless of what people may assume of those affected by eating disorders.

The truth is that eating disorders can affect anyone. No matter the age, weight, or intelligence of a person, anyone may be at risk for developing unhealthy coping behaviors like eating disorder. Eating disorders may develop as the result of a number of reasons. And, discovering these underlying reasons can help to determine the best strategies for eating disorder treatment.

Getting Help for Eating Disorders

Here at The Willow Place for Women, we help guide women to understand more about the psychological effects eating disorders can have. This way, they can begin to seek the underlying causes that have led to the development of unhealthy eating habits. And, address these causes in healthy ways so that a person may establish lasting recovery.

Before you can determine the underlying causes of an eating disorder, it’s helpful to understand the eating disorder you may be dealing with. There are three main types of eating disorders we help to address here at The Willow Place for Women. Take a look at these disorders and the signs of them to help determine if you or a loved one may be struggling.

Chapter 3:

About Anorexia Nervosa

This eating disorder is characterized by starvation. Individuals who suffer from anorexia nervosa often keep themselves from eating enough food to sustain themselves. They usually consume very small amounts of food at a time and limit themselves to an insufficient diet. So, as a result, they often experience extreme weight loss.

Physical Symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa

Changes in the body due to this eating disorder often cause individuals to deal with a number of physical side effects. Without the proper amount of nutrition needed, the body doesn’t function as it should. Sometimes, women who are dealing with the effects of anorexia nervosa experience abnormal menstrual cycles. Others may not have any cycles at all. Additionally, other physical effects of this eating disorder may include:

  • FatigueUltimate Guide for Eating Disorders | Willow Place for Women
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dehydration
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling cold
  • Water and electrolyte imbalance
  • Fainting
  • Headaches
  • Bruising of the skin
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Constipation
  • Vomiting
  • Bacterial infections

Psychological Effects of Anorexia Nervosa

The effects of anorexia nervosa aren’t only physical. People who are dealing with this illness also suffer from psychological challenges. In many cases, anorexia can cause individuals to develop low self-esteem. Additionally, people who are living with this disorder may deal with depression and anxiety. Plus, they often live with an intense fear of gaining weight. Some other psychological effects of anorexia can include:

  • Feelings of guilt and shame
  • Avoidance of loved ones and gatherings
  • Compulsive behaviors
  • Impulsivity

Long term effects of anorexia

Identifying Anorexia from Behavior Changes and Effects

Women who are living with the effects of anorexia nervosa disorder may show signs of the illness in their behaviors. Sometimes, individuals may make excuses to avoid eating. Some develop unhealthy exercise habits and work out excessively. They may even change the way they dress, choosing to wear oversized clothing.

It’s important to realize that the effects of anorexia nervosa are both physical and emotional. It means that the signs of this eating disorder may not be as evident as some may think. And it means that people who are dealing with it should seek eating disorder counseling as soon as possible.

Long Term Effects of Anorexia

When individuals don’t address the underlying causes of anorexia, they are at risk for maintaining harmful eating behaviors which characterize anorexia. And, after some time, these behaviors can have long term effects. 

Diagnosing Anorexia at The Willow Place for Women

If you or a loved one is experiencing any of the above symptoms, anorexia may be present. However, to be diagnosed, a person must meet the criteria for diagnosis according to DSM-5. This is the standard classification system which is used by the American Psychiatric Association to help diagnose mental health disorders. Criteria for DSM-5 diagnosis for anorexia nervosa include:

  1. Restricting food intake which leads to a body weight not appropriate for a person’s age, health, sex, and medical growth trajectory.
  2. A recognizable fear of becoming overweight or fat even with a body weight that’s below average.
  3. Emotional disconnection in how one sees their own weight. This may include low self-esteem, denial of below average weight, and a skewed version of one’s own physical appearance.

Even if you or a loved one may not be experiencing all 3 DSM-5 diagnostic criteria, there is still a risk for an eating disorder. Only a medical and psychological evaluation performed by professionals will allow for proper diagnosis. Here at The Willow Place for Women, we understand what characterizes each eating disorder; including anorexia nervosa. And, can help to make the correct diagnosis so that a proper treatment course may be sought.

Chapter 4:

About Binge Eating Disorder

People often refer to this disorder as B.E.D. Binge eating disorder involves periods of excessive eating. Those who are living with a binge eating disorder often eat large amounts of food and feel like they can’t control how much they eat.

Because the disorder causes individuals to overeat, it often leads to weight gain. Again, the physical effects are not alone as B.E.D. also has an impact on the emotional and psychological state of those who are living with this disorder.

Behavioral Characteristics of Binge Eating Disorder

Some of the most common signs of a binge eating disorder are changes to behavior. Along with the physical and emotional effects that come with living with an eating disorder, behaviors can help individuals identify these mental health issues. Some of the behaviors individuals living with binge eating disorder may portray can include:Ultimate Guide for Eating Disorders | Willow Place for Women

  • Leaving evidence of binge eating like wrappers, plates, and containers.
  • Appearing uneasy with or even fearing to eat around other people.
  • Excessive and frequent dieting.
  • Experiencing anxiety about body weight and size.
  • Avoiding friends, family, and social gatherings with loved ones.
  • Scheduling specific times to binge eat or secluding oneself so that binging can take place.
  • Sporadic eating habits like eating in between meals, fasting for periods of time, and skipping meals.
  • Difficulty with concentration.
  • Eating in large amounts until uncomfortable.

Physical Effects of Binge Eating Disorder

Along with weight gain, binge eating disorder may come with a number of other physical effects. Obviously, overeating, sporadic fasting, and frequent dieting affects the proper functionality of the body. So, those struggling with binge eating disorder may experience physical effects like:

  • Constipation
  • Acid reflux
  • Stomach cramping
  • Both weight loss and weight gain fluctuations
  • Sleeping problems
  • Heart issues
  • Diabetes

Emotional Effects of Binge Eating Disorder

Because eating disorders are mental health issues, they impact more than physical health. They impact psychological health, too. Some of these emotional effects include: 

  • Feeling like there is no control over how much food to eat.
  • Feelings of guilt, shame, remorse, and low self-esteem as a result of overeating or weight gain.
  • Defensive behaviors when approached about eating habits or weight gain.

Binge eating disorder can also impact the way a person interacts with others. Many people suffer in their social lives because of the effects of B.E.D. Some become isolated and deal with feelings of loneliness.

Causes of Binge Eating Disorder

Identifying the Causes of Binge Eating Disorder

Once it’s established that an individual is dealing with binge eating disorder, treatment can help to change mindsets and lifestyle behaviors. But, before healing can take place, it’s important for individuals to identify the underlying causes of their condition. This way, instead of just changing behaviors, they can confront issues which may have led to the development of unhealthy behaviors in the first place.

There is no one cause for binge eating disorder. And, many times, the development of an eating disorder has many causes. However, it’s important to identify the underlying causes of eating disorders so this may be addressed during treatment. Furthermore, so that 

Getting a Diagnosis for Binge Eating Disorder

For a diagnosis to be made, a person must experience at least three binge eating episodes every week for a period of three months or more. Additionally, three of the following characteristics must be present:

  • Eating until uncomfortably a person feels full Eating even when not hungry
  • Consuming food faster than the average eater
  • Consuming food in solitude to avoid embarrassment
  • Experiencing feelings of guilt, shame and/or disgust about oneself

If you or a loved one is experiencing at least three of these symptoms and has experienced binge eating episodes three times a week for longer than three months, a diagnosis may be made. Here at The Willow Place for Women, our specialists can help determine if you’re living with binge eating disorder. And, establish a plan of attack for treatment. Treatment at The Willow Place for Women for binge eating disorder allows women struggling with this condition to identify underlying causes. And, establish new and healthy habits to gain a new perspective on health and nutrition.

Chapter 5:

About Bulimia Nervosa

Those who are living with the effects of bulimia go through episodes of binge eating. But these episodes are followed by forced vomiting or some other form of purging. Like with the other two types of eating disorders, people who have bulimia nervosa experience its effects physically and psychologically.

Differences Between Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa

Ultimate Guide for Eating Disorders | Willow Place for WomenAnorexia and bulimia are probably two of the most commonly known eating disorders. Some may even think of the two as the same disorder or, at least, very similar. One of the reasons people might think this way is the fact that anorexia and bulimia both cause people to be concerned about their weight and appearance.

But there is more than one difference between anorexia and bulimia. For one, those who deal with anorexia nervosa usually do not binge eat. Instead, they eat very small amounts of food. On the other hand, bulimia nervosa causes individuals to overeat. Although these episodes are followed by purging, people who deal with this particular disorder are not always underweight. Anorexia, however, often causes people to lose an excessive amount of weight.

Another difference between anorexia and bulimia is the social behavioral impact. People who are suffering from anorexia nervosa often become isolated from others. They might avoid social interaction as much as possible. Those who deal with bulimia nervosa may become somewhat withdrawn, but not as much as those who suffer from anorexia. But these two eating disorders are similar in a couple of ways. Both affect the menstrual cycles of women who are suffering from these disorders.

Behavioral Aspects of Bulimia Nervosa

The two defining characteristics which help to make a bulimia nervosa diagnosis is binging and purging. Much of these behaviors stem from emotional issues individuals face and are attempting to control. So, they binge eat to the point of discomfort to deal with unwanted emotions. But, soon afterward, experience remorse and guilt for doing so. As a result, they purge to rid the body of the consumed calories.

The Emotional Effects of Bulimia | Willow Place for Women Ultimate Guide to Eating Disorders and TreatmentEmotional Effects of Bulimia Nervosa

Commonly, the development of bulimia stems from emotional issues. And, once established, this eating disorder also leads to the development of emotional issues. Some might deal with depression. They may also feel guilty about their eating patterns. Others may experience anxiety. Bulimia nervosa can also cause people to develop a low amount of esteem for themselves. Overall, it’s thought that these feelings of helplessness are what fuel the binge and purging cycle that those living with bulimia experience. And, can lead to a number of other emotional side effects.

Physical Effects of Bulimia Nervosa

The effects of bulimia also extend to a person’s physical appearance. Because of the vomiting that occurs after periods of binge eating, a person can expect a number of side effects from the acid within vomit. Some of these side effects may include:

  • Tooth decay, rot, and loss
  • The development of a raspy, hoarse voice
  • Reddened eyes caused by burst blood vessels
  • Swollen salivary glands and cheeks
  • Irritation of the throat
  • Sores and pain located inside the mouth
  • Malnourishment
  • Acid reflux
  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating
  • Constipation
  • Torn esophagus which can cause internal bleeding
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Lowered heart rate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia)
  • Irregular body temperature
  • Heart failure
  • Pregnancy issues
  • Miscarriage

Additionally, a frequent characteristic of bulimia nervosa may be using laxatives frequently. This is thought to eliminate food before it’s digested into the body’s system. But, overusing laxatives can lead to a number of physical health effects. These effects may include a dependency on laxatives and requiring their use to pass a bowel movement, dehydration, and kidney failure.

Getting a Diagnosis for Bulimia Nervosa

Usually, a diagnosis for bulimia nervosa is easily given with tests and examination by a physician. Once a diagnosis is made, there is hope for healing and sustained recovery from bulimia nervosa. At The Willow Place for Women, we help individuals identify the causes of their bingeing and purging so these emotions may be pinpointed. And, worked on throughout treatment so that new and healthy lifestyles can be obtained.

Chapter 6:

More Information About Eating Disorders

A person can develop an eating disorder without those around her even knowing it. That’s why it’s so important for individuals to know more about how and when these issues might begin. Knowing about the signs of these eating disorders can also be helpful. Many times, anorexia is seen in the lives of young girls. It often affects young women who are between the ages of about 13 and 19 years old. Bulimia is something that can occur in women who are a little older, perhaps, in their low to mid 20’s. The signs of eating disorders can include a number of things. Of course, the symptoms may not be the same for each person, especially because it depends on the type of eating disorder and the body of each individual. But, some of the common signs and symptoms include:

  • Emotional eatingUltimate Guide for Eating Disorders | Willow Place for Women
  • Changes in weight
  • Problems with social interaction
  • Excessive dieting
  • Feelings of nervousness and anxiety
  • Thinning hair
  • Dental unhealthiness (discoloration, cavities, etc.)
  • Lack of self-worth
  • Abnormal eating patterns
  • Euphoria (after periods of purging)
  • Depression
  • Feelings of guilt or shame
  • Obsession with weight/physical appearance
  • Fatigue and tiredness
  • Poor wound healing

Chapter 7:

Treating Eating Disorders

When it comes to eating disorder treatment, it’s important to get the best help possible. Eating disorder treatment centers are most helpful when they can show an understanding of the effects of bulimia, anorexia, and binge eating disorder. They should also show that they understand that each individual is unique and has specific needs. There is no method of treatment that works for everyone. So, eating disorder treatment centers must work to focus on the needs of the individual. Here at Willow Place for Women, we work to help our clients overcome eating disorders through personalized treatment plans. Eating disorder counseling and group therapy are just a couple of the elements of our approach to treatment. If you or a woman you know could use some help overcoming an eating disorder, we would like to offer our help and support through the recovery process. Just give us a call today.

Request a Call Back

If you or someone you love is battling substance use, mental health, or eating disorders, please feel free to contact one of our trained admission specialists today. All calls are free and completely confidential. While we know that suffering from a severe and life-threatening substance use disorder or a mental health issue can, at times, seem insurmountable, we sincerely believe that every woman is capable and deserving of the opportunity to recover. Reaching out is the first step – give us a call today and we will gladly walk you through the process of beginning your beautiful, fulfilling journey of recovery.

Note: Your details are kept strictly confidential.