EDNOS: This Quietly Common Eating Disorder Is The Most Lethal

Despite being one of the least recognizable categories of eating disorders, EDNOS (sometimes known as OSFED) is both the most common and most lethal eating disorder in the U.S. In an interview with ABC News, a young 20-year-old woman named Taylor shed some light on this eating disorder category and described her own perplexing path to being diagnosed with EDNOS.

"Originally I was diagnosed with bulimia," recalled Taylor. "Then my symptoms didn't match bulimia. So then they diagnosed me as anorexia, binge/purge type because there are two different types. And then I didn't meet the weight criteria for anorexia. So then they said, 'OK, you have EDNOS.' And I was like, 'Well, what is that?'"

The answer Taylor received was “eating disorder not otherwise specified.” As a broad umbrella category, the five most common types of EDNOS conditions are atypical anorexia nervosa, low-frequency atypical bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder of low frequency and/or limited duration, purging disorder, and night eating syndrome. According to research conducted by the National Association of Anorexia and Associated Disorders, up to 70 percent of all eating disorders are now categorized as EDNOS conditions.

After being informed that she had EDNOS, Taylor told ABC News that the diagnosis disappointed her, leaving her feeling as if her eating disorder wasn’t being taken seriously. "Because you only hear about bulimia and anorexia," said Taylor. "A lot of people don't think – just because you don't meet the weight criteria, 'Oh, you don't have an eating disorder.'"

While Taylor might be correct about the lack of EDNOS awareness, the reality is that EDNOS is a life-threatening category of eating disorders. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, the mortality rate for EDNOS is 5.2 percent. That’s slightly higher than the mortality rate of more well-known eating disorders, such as anorexia or bulimia nervosa.

The main reason why EDNOS remains largely unknown is that people diagnosed with EDNOS often don’t have the underweight appearance classically associated with someone suffering from an eating disorder. Luckily, Dr. Douglas Bunnell, a renowned clinical psychologist and the vice president of The Renfrew Center for eating disorder treatment, is starting to speak out about the lack of recognition for EDNOS sufferers, telling ABC News:

"It's still a misperception out there that these are relatively benign sorts of disorders or diets gone bad," said Dr. Bunnell. "These are life-threatening, serious illnesses. They have the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric diagnosis.”

Following her interview with ABC News, Taylor has since received treatment for EDNOS at The Renfrew Centre.

Sources: ABC News, National Eating Disorders

Photo: Pixabay

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