Do I Have an Eating Disorder?
What are Eating Disorders?
"Eating disorder" is a term for a group of serious disorders in which individuals jeopardize both mental and physical functioning due to problematic relationships with food and body image. These disorders can at times be life-threatening. These problematic relationships with eating and body image manifest themselves in the form of binge eating, purging, and food restriction. Those struggling with an eating disorder greatly evaluate their personal sense of self worth through weight and/or body image. Eating disorders are often accompanied by depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder or substance abuse. It is crucial that all associated psychiatric problems including other addictive behaviour form part of a comprehensive treatment program so that clients can heal and achieve the life they aspire to live. Eating disorders take various forms:
- Anorexia Nervosa: An eating disorder where individuals restrict their caloric intake due to an intense fear of gaining weight. The caloric restriction results in significant weight loss, loss of menstrual periods as well as being associated with other significant health related consequences. Some individuals with anorexia also engage in excessive exercise, self-induced vomiting, and diuretic use. Anorexia Nervosa can in some cases result in death. Those suffering with anorexia see themselves as being overweight in spite of their weight being dangerously low.
- Bulimia Nervosa: An eating disorder characterized by periods of binging on foods. Food binges are followed by self-induced vomiting. Some individuals will also engage in excessive exercise, and the use of diuretics or laxatives. Those suffering with bulimia base their sense of self worth on their weight or perception of their body image.
- Binge Eating Disorder: An eating disorder characterized by periods of binging on foods. Unlike Bulimia those with Binge Eating Disorder do not attempt to purge the excessive food intake. They therefore gain a great deal of weight and suffer the medical complications associated with obesity. Depression, shame, and poor self-esteem are also associated with this eating disorder.
- Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified (ED-NOS): Describes individuals who may have a mix of anorexia and/ bulimia and/ or binge-eating symptoms, but do not necessarily fit into one category.
A Self Assessment for Eating Disorders: The SCOFF Questionnaire*
Below is a self- screening questionnaire called, The SCOFF test, designed by researchers at St George's Hospital in London to help detect the eating disorders Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa. Take this screening questionnaire to see how you might score on the SCOFF test. Please note that although this questionnaire can be an effective predictor for detecting anorexia and bulimia nervosa, it is designed to raise suspicion of a likely case, rather than to diagnose.
Instructions: Please answer yes or no to each of the following questions:
Source: John F Morgan, clinical research fellow a, Fiona Reid, lecturer in medical statistics b, J Hubert Lacey, professor a. Department of Psychiatry, St George's Hospital Medical School, London SW17 0RE, b Department of Public Health Sciences, St George's Hospital Medical School
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