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Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are often confused with dieting – and while they do involve dieting behaviour, they are much more complex than that.

Eating disorders are amongst some of the most debilitating and dangerous of all mental illnesses, and they have the potential to be life-threatening. They involve rigid cognitions and maladaptive behaviours surrounding food and exercise, which can evolve rapidly into medical, psychiatric, and psychosocial crisis. Eating disorders are underlined by poor self-esteem, body image concerns, and an over-evaluation of body weight and shape control.


Despite their debilitating nature, eating disorders are ego-syntonic, meaning that individuals can feel comfortable with their disorder, fail to see the dangers and therefore are reluctant to treat it. For this reason, eating disorders need to be treated in particular ways, and over longer time periods than other mental health conditions.


The following eating disorders have been classified by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), Fifth Edition:

  • Anorexia Nervosa

  • Bulimia Nervosa

  • Other specified feeding or eating disorders (OSFED)

  • Unspecified feeding or eating disorder (UFED)

  • Binge Eating Disorder (BED)

  • Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID)

  • Pica

  • Rumination Disorder

While Orthorexia nervosa has not been classified as an eating disorder by the DSM-5 yet, it is increasingly being recognised as an eating disorder.


How Common are Eating Disorders?


There is a common misconception that eating disorders only happen in teenage females. Anyone can develop an eating disorder, regardless of their gender, age, body type, background, shape, and weight.


It is estimated that 8.4% of women, and 2.2% of men will have an eating disorder in their lifetime (Galmiche et al). The latest in research has revealed that these numbers have risen throughout the pandemic and continue to climb (Miskovic-Wheatley et al).


While research has found no single cause for eating disorders, they have been linked with various genetic, psychosocial, and environmental factors.


What are the Risks?

Eating disorders are dangerous both in the short-term and in the long-term. For this reason, early detection and treatment with a multi-disciplinary team is preferred. Some of the risks involved with eating disorders include, and are not limited to:

  • Social Isolation

  • Social isolation and withdrawal

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • Psychosocial developmental delay

  • Dehydration, tremors, and fainting spells

  • Thinning bones and osteoporosis

  • Infertility

  • Poor Immune system

  • Sleep Problems

  • Poor temperature regulation

  • Weak bladder

  • Premature aging

  • Low blood pressure

  • Kidney damage and failure

  • Heart attacks, heart failure

  • Seizures

  • Rupture of stomach or oesophagus, haemorrhage and peritonitis

  • Acid/Alkaline imbalances

  • Hiatal and other hernias

  • Endocrine imbalances

  • Urinary tract infections

  • Blood sugar complications

  • Rectal bleeding

  • Irritable bowel syndrome

  • Bowel tumours

  • Death


Due to medical complications and suicide risk, people who have eating disorders are at a higher risk of mortality compared to the general population. (Arcelus et al, Preti et al).


The impact of eating disorders on individuals is vast, however eating disorders don’t just effect individuals; these are complex and debilitating disorders which ultimately place additional pressures on parents, siblings, and caregivers, resulting in a risk that those loved ones may also acquire mental health and relationship concerns. For this reason, it is commonly recommended that loved ones receive their own psychological support alongside the individual who is being treated for an eating disorder.


Eating Disorder Treatment at Treat Yourself Well...

At Treat Yourself Well Sydney, our treatments draw from evidence-based modalities which have been shown to be effective in the treatment of eating disorders, some of which include:


No two people are the same, and every eating disorder is different. We recognise that our clients are individuals, and for this reason, we tailor our treatment plans to the unique needs of each individual client, and we involve our clients in all decision-making related to their treatment. We work within a wider treatment team, which typically includes a GP, dietitian, and a psychiatrist, which means that our clients are supported in every way possible. While we don’t offer family-based therapy, we do encourage family involvement where appropriate and particularly for our younger clients.


Our goal is to walk alongside you, supporting you on your pathway to recovery...


To read more on treatment modalities and specific eating disorders types, please see our ‘approaches’ and ‘interest areas’ sections on our website.



Galmiche M, Déchelotte P, Lambert G, Tavolacci MP. Prevalence of eating disorders over the 2000–2018 period: a systematic literature review. Am J Clin Nutr. 2019;109(5):1402-13.ombines dimensions of therapies such as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), psychoanalysis, attachment theory, and emotion-focused therapy.

Miskovic-Wheatley, J., Koreshe, E., Kim, M. et al. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated public health response on people with eating disorder symptomatology: an Australian study. J Eat Disord 10, 9 (2022).


Preti A, Rocchi MBL, Sisti D, Camboni M, Miotto P. A comprehensive meta‐analysis of the risk of suicide in eating disorders. Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2011;124(1):6-17.


Arcelus J, Mitchell AJ, Wales J, Nielsen S. Mortality rates in patients with anorexia nervosa and other eating disorders: a meta-analysis of 36 studies. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2011;68(7):724-31.

If you would you like to talk to us more about how we may be able to support you, please contact us on

9555 4810 or email us at

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