The first step in diagnosis is admitting that you have symptoms of an eating disorder. You may need support and encouragement from others before seeking help.
- Initial evaluation—During the initial evaluation, your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, the amount of food you eat, and how you try to control your weight.
- Physical exam and tests—Your doctor will give you a physical exam and check your height and weight. If you have symptoms of bulimia, your teeth may be checked for erosion, which is a sign of frequent vomiting. You will also have routine blood, urine, and other tests to check your overall health status.
- Psychiatric evaluation—A mental health professional may perform a series of tests and evaluate you for other psychiatric conditions, such as depression and anxiety disorders, which are common in people with eating disorders. Diagnosis of a particular type of eating disorder is based on an evaluation of your symptoms using the criteria of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV). Screening tests such as the Eating Attitudes Test (EAT-26) can be used to screen for symptoms of eating disorders.
Diagnosis of Anorexia Nervosa
Anorexia nervosa is characterized by:
- An intense fear of gaining weight
- A refusal to maintain adequate nutrition, often associated with an erroneous image of the self as fat
- Loss of original body weight to 85% or less of what is expected for normal height and weight
- Disturbance of body image and negative self-evaluation
- Absence of at least three consecutive menstrual periods in females who have started menstruating
Diagnosis of Bulimia Nervosa
Bulimia nervosa is characterized by:
- Frequent occurrence of binge eating episodes accompanied by a sense of loss of control
- Recurrent inappropriate behavior such as vomiting, use of laxatives, fasting, or excessive exercise, intended to prevent weight gain
- Both of the above behaviors occur at least twice a week, on average, for three months
- Negative self-evaluation influenced by body shape and weight
Diagnosis of Binge Eating Disorder
Binge eating disorder is characterized by:
- Binge eating episodes accompanied by a sense of loss of control
- No inappropriate behavior to prevent weight gain
- The behavior occurs at least twice a week, on average, for three months
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 07/2013 -
- Update Date: 05/11/2013 -