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OSFED Signs, Symptoms, Treatment, and Recovery | Eating Disorder Treatment


Signs, Symptoms,

Treatment, and


Eating Disorder


OSFED and Eating Disorder Treatment

Like all other eating disorders, OSFED is treated through psychotherapy, which helps the individual to recognize their triggers resulting in their harmful behaviors. Although food is strongly associated with eating disorders, it is not the underlying trigger itself. Past trauma and abuse, low-self esteem, body image misconceptions, a lack of self-control, depression, borderline personality disorder, and family discordances are known triggers that can cause eating disorders. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a psychotherapy approach that recognizes these triggers and helps individuals to work through their negative thoughts and emotions associated with their disorder and develop positive and healthy coping skills to overcome these triggers in order to prevent harmful behaviors such as binging and purging. Mindfulness, art therapy, relapse prevention skills, meditation, and nutritional counseling are also part of the therapy offered to combat this disease.

What is OSFED?

Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS) was a diagnosis in The Diagnostic & Statistical Manual (DSM-IV), the old version of the DSM. This eating disorder encompassed all other eating disorders and abnormal eating patterns that did not meet the strict criteria for anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder or avoidant-restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID). EDNOS was changed to Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorder (OSFED) which is now included in the current version of the DSM, known as The Diagnostic & Statistical Manual (DSM-V). Anorexia nervosa is the most publicized eating disorder portrayed by the media however OSFED is actually the most common eating disorder and is estimated to affect 32-53% of all individuals with eating disorders. Additionally OSFED is often misinterpreted as a “subclinical” diagnosis meaning it is not as serious as anorexia nervosa, binge eating disorder or bulimia nervosa; however this is false. OSFED can result in severe medical complications and other psychiatric illnesses such as depression, anxiety, self-harm behavior and even suicide and therefore this disorder should be taken seriously.

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Do I have an eating disorder?

Does my loved one have an eating disorder?

Do I have an eating disorder?

Does my loved one have an eating disorder?

What are the signs, symptoms and subtypes of OSFED?

  • Bulimia Nervosa: An individual meets the criteria for bulimia but engages in binging or purging behaviors at a lower frequency and/or for a limited period of time.
  • Binge Eating Disorder: An individual meets the criteria for binge eating disorder but engages in binging behaviors at a lower frequency and/or for a limited period of time. A person experiences episodes of eating, in a short period of time an amount of food that is larger than what most individuals would consume and feels out of control.
  • Atypical Anorexia Nervosa: An individual has restrictive behaviors and other symptoms of anorexia, however they do not meet the low weight criteria.
  • Purging Disorder: Purging behaviors that may include vomiting, excessive exercise, laxatives, etc.
  • Night Eating Syndrome: Recurrent episodes of night eating. The person recalls what they have eaten.

The following are signs and symptoms associated OSFED as well as all other eating disorders recognized by the DSM-V:

  • Obsessive thoughts about food, weight loss and body image
  • Losing and gaining weight in an unhealthy manner
  • Self-induced purging behaviors including vomiting, laxative abuse, diuretic abuse and excessive exercise.
  • Hiding food
  • Overeating to the point where you are uncomfortably full
  • Overeating and storing food at night
  • Eating food as a stress reliever and to hide emotions
  • Abnormal or missed menstrual periods
  • Dental caries or enamel erosion on teeth from self-induced vomiting
  • Feeling a sense of deep remorse after eating a large amount of food
  • Metabolic derangements such as electrolyte imbalances
  • The appearance of fine body hair (lanugo)
  • Dry skin
  • Brittle nails
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Feelings of emptiness that only food can cure
  • Wearing baggy clothes to hide weight loss

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Discovery Alumni

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For more information, resources, or to consult with an eating disorder treatment specialist, call 866.561.9042

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