Last night, ABC aired a segment on EDNOS- Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. The general population is not as familiar with this eating disorder as they may be with diagnosis such as Anorexia or Bulimia. However, EDNOS is a very serious illness with an estimated mortality rate of 5.2%. EDNOS is one of the most common eating disorder diagnosis, as it encompasses all eating disorder behaviors that do not fit into the criteria for anorexia or bulimia.
Those that suffer with EDNOS exhibit almost all of the same symptoms as those that are diagnoses with anorexia, bulimia and/or BED. These individuals are at risk for the very same health concerns, such as dehydration, heart attack, gastrointestinal problems, and death. If they have similar symptoms, why are they not given a diagnosis of anorexia or bulimia? These men and women are diagnosed with EDNOS because the DSM-IV (a book that treatment professionals use when coding a diagnosis) lists out specific criteria that a person must be suffering with in order to receive a specific diagnosis. For example, an individual suffering from EDNOS can show nearly all the signs and symptoms of anorexia, but continues to have normal menstruation, thus they cannot receive the diagnosis of Anorexia.
The problem with a catch all diagnosis like EDNOS, is that sufferers and often times insurance companies perceive that they are not sick enough to warrant professional treatment. This may cause sufferers to stay in denial longer or have less access to treatment options than if they had been diagnosed with a more well known diagnosis like anorexia or bulimia. This mentality is dangerous because any eating disorder symptom or thought process is serious, and should be met with compassion and the appropriate level of care, no matter what the diagnosis.
All eating disorders cause a serious health risk to the sufferer. Many of those that suffer with Eating Disorders also suffer with an anxiety disorder or depression. This puts them at an additional risk for suicidal behavior as well. This ABC news feature brings to light a perpetual problem with the public opinion of eating disorders: Eating Disorders are a serious mental health issue, they are not diets gone wrong. They require intensive therapy and treatment which should be provided by professionals who specialize in the treatment of eating disorders.