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EDNOS Explained

EDNOS explained in a simple way without all the complicated jargon!

The interpretation of EDNOS means an eating disorder not otherwise specified.
In clear English this means it doesn’t fit into the category of either bulimia or anorexia nervosa.

This term is becoming better known and internationally used to encompass specific eating disorders all combined under one term.

EDNOS is a difficult one to pin down because it includes various disorders and behaviours all interacting with each other.

Unlike those who are suffering from anorexia nervosa, EDNOS sufferers appear to be normal in appearance as opposed to being extremely underweight as is the case with those suffering from other types of eating disorders such as anorexia or obesity which show signs of excessive weight gain.

Often the people who suffer from EDNOS may have an appearance and a weight which may be considered average or normal to the untrained eye making it easy to dismiss as not been an eating disorder or misdiagnose. It is very difficult to spot the signs of EDNOS upon first glance.

The indication of EDNOS is gained through consultation with the client or patient leading to an understanding that there is an emotional and psychological disturbance or suffering intimately and specifically associated to food activity.

Additionally there may be body dysmorphia which are issues relating to image, appearance and size and all that goes with body image distortion along with irrational or extreme thinking around food. This is also discovered within early consultations.

The interaction between food and feelings along with thoughts is linked to a coping mechanism or process of control.

Sufferers of EDNOS often report the following thoughts and feelings which may be erratic and irrational or distorted with a strong motivation and energy to control the eating, digesting, vomiting or the rejecting of food in various forms:

What is EDNOS?

Often the weight and appearance still remains regular or within the normal expected parameters even though some weight is being shed and controlled.

Certain bulimic behaviour or traces exists or binges occur on a weekly basis but much less than common bulimia nervosa and can also be over a period of a few months or shorter duration bursts.

Menstrual cycles remain stable in females even though some anorexic behaviour is engaged in.

Long, slow chewing and savouring of the food or flavours and then spitting out thus tricking the self into believing that actually going through some of the motions of eating and digesting the food was meeting some bodily demand but obviously not. This chewing and spitting activity for the sufferer of EDNOS makes every sense and fits well into a slightly distorted way of thinking about food from the sufferer’s point of view.

Weight stays normal or is stabilised however irrational and concerning behaviour of eating very small pieces of food and then vomiting or rejecting it down the toilet bowl also producing the sense that food is being removed from the body and stomach again producing a state of control and then a satisfaction or confirmation of that control.

  • Feelings of low self-worth.
  • Lacking in confidence.
  • Lacking in motivation.
  • Strong feelings of regret and guilt associated to food and vomiting or abstinence/fasting behaviour.
  • Distorted irrational views of one’s own body image, visual appearance including a sense of unattractiveness, disfiguration or ugliness.
  • Feeling a sense of overweight (fat) when weight is normal.
  • Self hatred or loathing of oneself.
  • Feeling ashamed but not knowing why.
  • Depression.
  • Anxiety.
  • Normal or irrational dieting.
  • Obsessive concern over body shape.
  • Vomiting.
  • Obsessive and extreme dieting.
  • Excessive and at times obsessive exercising phases.

EDNOS is the grey area of both anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa but not enough to meet the category or labelling of either but still serious to cause harm to health and mind if continued over a long period.

Sufferers of EDNOS simply have mixtures of both disorders fluctuating up and down but not meeting the full descriptions of commonly known eating disorders.

The suffering and the symptoms along with the behaviours are at times similar to bulimia and anorexia and can result in the same ill health or consequences of such an eating disorder.

Over 50% of adults who are treated for various disorders of eating including psychological and emotional behaviours are diagnosed with EDNOS and contradictory to belief includes a high proportion of males as well as females with a strong increase of eating disorders in males on the up.

EDNOS has been termed so by the DSM-IV which stands for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

So you see EDNOS is a category or label given to describe an area of eating disorders which is becoming very common and entails a mixture of the more well known eating problems such as the nervosa and must be considered just as concerning and serious because of the consequences of ill health.

For example, someone with anorexia nervosa will often be commented upon by most people because of their striking skinniness or protrusion of bones showing through their skin. Sufferers of EDNOS will not have this appearance but will have some of the behaviours and the same emotional and psychological difficulties, issues and preoccupations with food in all these described directions.

The consequences of EDNOS are dehydration, electrolyte imbalances and heart attacks possibly leading to a sudden death.

From an experienced therapists point of view, those that have received treatment for the more serious full blown eating disorders are likely to fall into the bracket of EDNOS as they recover, which would be considered a considerable reduction from the previous anorexic or bulimic behaviours.

Many sufferers of severe eating disorders often have to live with constant and regular fears and insecurities along with anxieties over food accompanied by anticipation and apprehension of what can happen if they slip back to old patterns but now have coping strategies as a result of the treatments received.

This doesn’t change the fact that those with a severe eating disorder may have to live the rest of their life always on the lookout for triggers or old patterns of thought and behaviour.

Understandably from the sufferer’s point of view for those who have recovered they do not want to return to old ways.

What help is available for sufferers of EDNOS?

  • Nutritionists.
  • Counselling and psychotherapy.
  • CBT.
  • DBT.
  • NLP.
  • EMDR.
  • Doctors or GPs.
  • Psychologists.

If you or someone you suspect is suffering from an eating disorder please feel free to e-mail us on the below e-mail address if you like some free advice or a list of qualified therapists available nationally.

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