Vidyasagar Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Allied Sciences, Nehru Nagar, New Delhi

Eating Disorders

What are eating disorders?

Eating disorders are abnormal pattern of eating that severely interferes in everyday functioning of a person life.

It has a negative impact on a person’s physical and mental health.

These disorders often co-exist with other mental illness like anxiety,depression,substance abuse, suicidal thoughts etc.

Types of eating disorders

  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Bulimia nervosa
  • Binge eating disorder

1.Anorexia nervosa

It is a potentiallylife-threatening disorder characterised by self-starvation,wherein people avoid food ,severely restrict food or eat very small quantities of only certain foods.

They are severely malnourished but considers themselves as obese/ overweight.

Some common symptoms:

  • Rapid weight loss
  • Intense fear of being fat, despite being underweight
  • Negative self-image
  • Hypothermia
  • Hypotension
  • Self-denial


  • Severe dehydration
  • Osteoporosis
  • Dry skin
  • Alopecia (loss of hair)
  • Lanugos
  • Bradycardia
  • Insomnia
  • Vitamin deficiencies
  • Irregular Menstrual Cycle


  • Medication
  • Psychotherapy
  • Nutrition counselling
  • Maintaining healthy body weight

2.Bulimia nervosa

This disorder involves rapid consumption of lot of food in a short amount of time followed by deliberately vomiting, fasting or excessive exercising to prevent weight gain.


  • Repeated episodes of eating abnormally large amount of food
  • Induced vomiting
  • Loss of control during bingeing
  • Using laxatives or diuretics
  • Rigid exercise routine
  • Having excessive negative body image

Consequences may include:

  • Irregular menstruation in females
  • Digestive problems
  • Dental problems
  • Anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts or self-harm
  • Misuse of alcohol or drugs or even prescription drugs


It’s important to deal with these symptoms as soon one notices them which primarily includes maintaining a healthy behaviour and professional help.

Try to reinforce a healthy body image by enjoying regular family meals.

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Family must be very supportive to talk to a person who appears to be unduly interested in food or/ and have issues related to body shape and size, and consult for professional help to identify early indicators.

3.Binge eating disorder

It is characterised by recurrent binging a lot of food in a short period of time but without purging


  • Loss of control while overeating
  • Eating despite being full or not hungry
  • Unplanned meal timing
  • Feeling depressed, disgusted, guilty or upset about eating
  • Eating alone or in secret


  • Weight gain or obesity
  • Hyperlipidaemia
  • Hypertension
  • Heart diseases
  • Diabetes
  • Social isolation

Case Studies :


Mandakini, a lawyer by profession , beautiful looking young girl in her 20’s came to VIMHANS , as a severely anorexic patient. She had some beliefs that food whatever it is should not be chewed by her teeth.

Only dairy and its products and that too in liquid form was her major diet ; milk,curd,lassi that was which she used to take in whole day.

nitially she accepted only milk and curd but eventually with the help of our experts; psychologist,psychiatrists and nutritionist, we were able to bring her to semi solid balanced meal plans.


Ritu, a state level badminton player was admitted at VIMHANS after her parents observed some drastic changes in her dietary pattern. A healthy happy go lucky sportsperson suddenly started consuming huge amount of junk food and to overcome her guilt and fear of gaining weight she started to spend half of her day in gym.

A mere heart break in her teens lead her to Bulimia and its consequences as well.

With psychotherapy sessions ,medications and detailed personalised balanced meal plans she was able to overcome all the issues in a span of couple of months.

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