How Is An Eating Disorder A Mental Illness?

Most people understand that eating too much is bad, but how about when you spend hours every day thinking about food and your body, and then you make up false reasons to eat less so that you can feel thinner? That’s called dieting, and it’s not okay.

Dieting may be fun at first, but eventually it becomes an obsession because you are trying to use food as a way to fix a mental health condition. This is known as binge-eating disorder or compulsive overeating.

Having this kind of thing is very serious because it can have long term effects on your overall health. You could end up suffering from nutritional deficiencies, heart disease, or even death if you go too far.

This article will talk more in depth about what constitutes as an illness and why diets usually don’t work for people with eating disorders. If you or someone you know needs help, visit our page on suicide prevention strategies.

Disclaimer: The content in this article should not be used to diagnose or treat any medical conditions. All information has been fact checked and verified, but no guarantee exists regarding the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or applicability of these contents. Authors and DiabetesU assume no liability or responsibility for errors, omissions, or misleading statements within this article.

Binge eating

When you binge eat, you consume a large amount of food in a short period of time. This is usually accompanied by feelings such as hunger, stress, or anxiety.

Many people who develop an eating disorder also feel very guilty for what they eat. They may even punish themselves by not eating for hours after the binge.

Some symptoms of bulimia include repeated episodes of binging, vomiting, and/or self-induced dehydration to prevent weight gain. Sometimes individuals with this condition will exercise more to burn off excess calories.

Certain behaviors can be a symptom of bulimia including frequent trips to the refrigerator or stomach, licking your lips, chewing with no purpose, and washing down foods with lots of water.

Psychologists use several different diagnostic tools to determine if someone has bulimia. These include the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) and The International Classification of Diseases (ICD). Both have similar lists of criteria that must be present before being diagnosed with the disease.

Compulsive eating

Another term for binge-eating is compulsive eating, which can quickly get out of control. People with this disorder feel that they must eat as much as possible in order to be happy or self-confident.

They may also avoid food because they think they will not have enough money to buy it or believe that they does not like how it makes them feel.

This suffering is very difficult to watch, let alone help. Because people with this disease cannot seem to satisfy their hunger, their skin and eye features become more pronounced due to poor nutrition and weight loss.

Sadly, some even suffer from nutritional anemia, meaning they do not ingest sufficient amounts of vitamins and minerals.


There are several symptoms of eating disorders. Some sufferers might deny or forget to eat regularly, but still want to look attractive or strive to lose weight. They fear being overweight could hurt their reputation or make others dislike them.

Avoiding eating

Another way to describe someone with binge-eating disorder is people who eat too much of whatever they are eating. They may even go into large amounts of food, but they do not eat very much of it.

People with this type of diet have trouble satisfying their hunger. Because they know there is more food available, they feel less hungry, so they don’t need to eat as much.

But when they finally do want to eat, they find that they can’t swallow enough to satisfy their appetite. This feeling of fullness doesn’t seem to get better until later, when they can eat again.

There are sometimes other symptoms like agitation or anger towards others because you think they took something from you (like your favorite shirt) or hurt you in some way. You might even hurt yourself physically by acting on these feelings.

Food addiction

Another term for eating disorder is food addiction. This term was made popular in the early 2000s when psychiatrists began to describe individuals who eat large amounts of food as having eating disorders that are actually due to them feeling hungry and craving foods excessively.

Some people develop eating habits or behaviors that go beyond what healthy diets require. They may spend too much time thinking about food, eating far more than necessary, and/or seeking out rich tastes and textures.

This can be chocolate, meat, vegetables, dessert – anything and everything edible!

People with eating disorders often feel overwhelmed by hunger and need to compensate by eating more to satisfy their appetite. As we have seen, this can continue until they are obese.

Alternatively, some people become obsessed with dieting, spending hours every day searching for ways to reduce or lose weight. Both of these examples are clearly signs of someone suffering from an eating disorder.

Low muscle tone

When you have an eating disorder, your body does not like food very much. You might even feel disgusted by it at times. This is because you are using your brain to tell your stomach how to behave with each bite.

You also may notice that your muscles seem to be lacking strength. It can take longer for you to recover from a workout than normal. This is due to poor nutrition and/or lack of sleep while you’re sick.

Both weight loss and gain are common signs of someone who has an eating disorder. Sometimes people will say things or do things because they think their symptoms show.

This could make you feel bad about yourself or give you false sense of security. It’s important to remember that having an illness doesn’t mean that you’ll always feel poorly.

Fortunately, most people get rid of mental illnesses in the early stages. For some, this is before they know what an eating disorder is! If you think you’ve got one, see if you can recognize the symptoms first.

Then, talk to someone about it so you can get help.

Mood disorders

There are several types of mood disorders. People with bipolar disorder have episodes of mania, or excessive activity that can include large spending sprees, euphoria, talkative emotions, and dramatic shifts in behavior. They may also suffer from depressive symptoms, such as depressed mood and loss of interest in normally enjoyable activities.

People with depression often feel tired and overwhelmed by life. They may think about suicide frequently, but they usually do not act on it.

Eating is one area of life that people with mental health conditions typically struggle with. This can be because they don’t want to eat due to feeling emotionally hurt or hungry, or because they worry about how much food they have so they don’t eat very much.

Some individuals develop compulsive eating habits during times when they are experiencing emotional distress. These behaviors sometimes become more frequent and urgent under stress, and they can eventually interfere with daily living if you cannot find enough time to prepare andeat properly.

If you know someone who has anorexia nervosa, try to understand why she or he feels angry, hurt, or betrayed most of the time. Sometimes these feelings come from past events, and others arise because of something happening at the moment.

It may help your friend or family member feel less ashamed and guilty if you recognize the signs of othermental illnesses.

Brain chemistry

One of the most important factors in developing an eating disorder is having certain brain chemicals that play a role in feeding behaviors. When you feel hungry, you eat to satisfy your hunger.

When you are trying to lose weight, you need to understand why you feel hungry and what can make it harder to stay food-free.

Boredom or stress may cause you to seek out foods that taste good so you can relax or feel relaxed. Stress also makes it difficult to maintain healthy diet habits.

Certain hormones like cortisol promote appetite by telling your body there’s enough glucose (a simple sugar used for energy) in the blood. As we mentioned before, when you’re trying to lose weight, you’ll probably find yourself feeling hungry more often than not.

Dopamine, another hormone, helps regulate moods and emotions. It’s naturally produced during social interactions and sexual activity and assists us in seeking out relationships and intimacy.

Self-destructive eating

People with binge eating disorder (BED) eat very quickly, without conscious control. They may also feel hungry even when they don’t seem to be starving. This is called compulsive eating.

People with BED often try to stop their eating by making themselves wait for certain amount of time before taking another bite or sipping some water or milk.

But because they are not able to wait that long, they end up eating more than they wanted. This can easily continue until they are full and achieve what they call a “full feeling.”

This person might then start doing it again only now they are experiencing hunger. Because they have already eaten some food, your body doesn’t register that you aren’t hungry anymore. So you keep asking if you are and you go on eating anyway.

It becomes a vicious circle that keeps happening over and over. This is how people with BED learn to ignore their bodies’ signals about being hungry or satiated.

Something else happens along this process too—people with BED develop feelings of guilt and frustration.

They may feel like horrible people who do bad things to themselves by feeding themselves, but at the same time they cannot help it. Or maybe they feel guilty for letting themselves get so hungry and overweight.

Sometimes they may feel ashamed of how much food they have consumed, which makes them want to eat even more.