What is an eating disorder?

This video in the mental health information series from Walk in My Shoes (WIMS) explores eating disorders.

Tosin Adebayo, a psychiatric nurse in St Patrick’s Mental Health Services, takes us through what an eating disorder is, what some of the main signs of an eating disorder are, and what types of care and support someone going through an eating disorder may receive. She explains that, with the right support, recovery from an eating disorder is possible.

An eating disorder is a mental health disorder where someone uses food and weight to cope with emotions. A person with an eating disorder may base their self worth on their shape and weight, leading to obsession with diet, exercise and weight control.

The most common types of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and other specified feeding and eating disorders, or OSFED.

Common symptoms of an eating disorder include: ● strict rules around food ● anxiety around meal times ● avoiding eating in social settings ● binge eating ● purging food ● over-exercising ● distorted body image ● sensitivity to comments about exercise, food, or body shape ● weight loss or weight changes ● changes to, or loss of, periods ● swelling around the cheeks or damage to teeth from vomiting. Some people may go through any mix of these symptoms, or have some of these symptoms without having an eating disorder.
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