Anorexia and bulimia are now fairly widely known as the two main eating disorders. What people don’t know about, however, is Ednos. Ednos stands for “eating disorder not otherwise specified,” and applies to the countless number of people that have an eating disorder but don’t technically qualify for a diagnosis of anorexia or bulimia.
As with anorexia and bulimia, Ednos is most prevalent among middle to upper class young white females. It is found even more prominently among college-aged girls, the rate during those years several times higher than at other points.
To be diagnosed as anorexic, an individual must weigh below 85% of the ideal weight for their height and cease experiencing their menstrual cycle. An individual that starves themselves and has lost forty-five pounds over the course of two months but weighs 87% of the ideal weight for their height could not be diagnosed as anorexic, though the main principle of the illness is present.
In order to be diagnosed as bulimic, one must binge and purge at least twice a week. If they do it less often or don’t purge after eating, they do not qualify for the diagnosis. For example, I have been making myself vomit after meals, snacks, an apple, anything, for over three years. But because I don’t technically “binge,” I am not bulimic. Additionally, these behaviors must occur for at least three months in order to meet the diagnostic criteria.
Ednos is a very broad diagnosis, and most don’t take it as seriously as they do a diagnosis of anorexia or bulimia. This diagnosis does not mean, however, that there is not a serious problem or that the individual’s life is not in jeopardy. Far more people are diagnosed with EDNOS than with anorexia and bulimia combined, yet the illness goes widely unrecognized.
The side effects and risks of Ednos are as great as those of anorexia and bulimia. One may experience malnourishment, hair loss, vitamin deficiencies, fatigue, constipation, insomnia, weakness, depression, anxiety, fainting, seizures, and even death. The list is endless.
Treating Ednos can be far more difficult than treating anorexia or bulimia. This is because many treatment centers don’t recognize Ednos as an eating disorder, even though many of the causes and behaviors are the same. Furthermore, many insurance companies don’t recognize Ednos as a serious health problem and won’t provide coverage for treatment of the disorder. It is important to keep trying, though, as Ednos is a serious mental and physical health condition that can be deadly.