Marilyn Riesz, MA, RP - Registered Psychotherapist

Specializing in the treatment of eating disorders

Eating Disorders

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia is an eating disorder characterized by low body weight and an intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat. Specifically, anorexia involves the following:
  • Refusing to maintain body weight at or above the minimum expected weight for age and height
  • Experiencing an extreme fear of gaining weight or getting fat, even though you may be underweight for your age and height
  • One of
    • Weight or body shape has too much influence on self-esteem or self-worth
    • The seriousness of the low body weight is denied
    • Weight or body shape are experienced negatively
  • For women and girls who have started menstruating, irregular periods or absence of menstruation

Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia is an eating disorder characterized by alternating and repeating episodes of overeating (binges) and engaging in unhealthy behaviours to prevent weight gain from these binges. These unhealthy behaviours can include, but are not limited to, self-induced vomiting, fasting, and excessive exercise. Specifically, bulimia involves the following:
  • Recurring binge-eating episodes. A binge-eating episode involves
    • eating a larger amount of food than most others would eat under similar circumstances and within a similar time frame
    • a sense that the person who is overeating is "out of control" during the binge-eating episode. That is, the person feels like he or she cannot stop eating and similarly cannot control what or how much is being eaten
  • Recurring and unhealthy behaviours intended to compensate for the binge-eating episodes and that are intended to prevent weight gain. These behaviours may include one or more of
    • self-induced vomiting
    • misuse of laxatives, enemas, or other medications
    • fasting
    • excessive exercising
  • Body shape and weight have a significant influence on a person's sense of self

Binge Eating

Binge eating is characterized by repeated episodes of overeating (as described above under 'Bulimia') without the unhealthy compensatory behaviours. People generally feel significant distress around their binge eating. In addition, when binge eating, a person may do one or more of the following:
  • eat until uncomfortably full
  • eat large amounts of food when not physically hungry
  • eat much more rapidly than normal
  • eat alone because of embarrassment around overeating
  • feel disgusted, depressed, or guilty after overeating

References
American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.
Zimmerman, M. (1994). Interview guide for evaluating DSM-IV psychiatric disorders and the mental status examination. East Greenwich, RI: Psych Products Press.