Eating disorders are mental health conditions that present with disturbances in an individual's eating behaviors, thoughts about eating, and emotions about eating. The hallmark symptoms of eating disorders involve a preoccupation with food and body weight. At any given moment, millions of individuals are dealing with eating disorders. They are most prevalent in women between twelve and thirty-five years old, but anyone can develop an eating disorder. The three main eating disorders are bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, and binge eating disorder. Anorexia and bulimia often present with an obsessive sense of perfectionism, feelings of low self-worth, and self-criticism.
Patients with anorexia and bulimia may create elaborate rules and rituals regarding food to establish a sense of control over their lives. It's common for anorexic and bulimic individuals to have intense fears about weight gain and being fat, which are often combined with poor self-image. Binge eating disorder involves periods of overeating without purging. It's the most common eating disorder in the United States. The binges are often used to self-medicate feelings of low self-worth or unhappiness.