(Trigger Warning - some of the content below may trigger some unpleasant emotions.)
Anyone can develop an eating disorder regardless of age, race, gender or background. Eating disorders are a way of coping with feelings and emotions, and are a sign that you're struggling to cope with life and it's demands.
It may be difficult to face up to and talk about feelings like anger, sadness, guilt, loss or fear that can lead to someone developing an eating disorder.
Eating disorders claim more lives than any other mental illness – one in five of those most seriously affected will die as a result.
If you think you might have an eating disorder, it's really important that you seek help as soon as possible as the physical effects can be dangerous.
This page highlights some of the most common eating disorders, but it's important to understand that you might not fit into one of these descriptions, and all eating disorders are serious.
An eating disorder is about having a relationship with food that feels out of control.
If you feel your eating habits have changed dramatically and you don't feel in control any more, this could indicate a problem.
Where to get help and support
Visit the Beat (Beat Eating Disorders charity) website or access their Helpline: https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/support-services/helplines call the Youthline on 0808 801 0711. Their Helplines are open 365 days a year: 3pm-10pm Sometimes the lines are busy. If you can't get through immediately, please do try again.
If you are worried, it's important to talk to someone. You could speak to a school nurse for support and advice - they offer weekly confidential 'drop-ins' in secondary schools. Send a text to ChatHealth (07507 333356) or ask in school to find out more.
The children and young people's Emotional Wellbeing Hub provides an online referral for support and a telephone helpline (0345 600 2090) if you are worried about you or a friend's emotional wellbeing and need advice.
Or visit your GP. They will be able to talk to you about what you've been feeling, and suggest ways of getting better and taking back control.
You might not fit into one of these diagnoses and there are other types of eating disorders which you might be experiencing.
Binge Eating Disorder
Binge eating disorder (BED) is a serious mental illness where people experience a loss of control and regularly overeat. People who binge eat consume very large amounts of food over a short period of time (called bingeing). They often eat even when they are not hungry, and can make themselves feel uncomfortably full.
The main difference between bulimia and binge eating disorder is people with BED do not make themselves sick, take laxatives or exercise in attempt to control their weight.
After binge eating people will often feel very upset, but there is nothing to be ashamed about and it's important to seek help. Find out more about BED.
Orthorexia - an unhealthy obsession with eating healthy food
Orthorexia is when someone becomes obsessed with eating healthy food, as well as worrying about the quality and purity of food.
This can be physically dangerous as food choices become very limited in terms of variety and calories, and emotional health can also suffer as an obsession with healthy eating can be very restrictive and cause anxiety.
People with orthorexia might have some symptoms similar to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), as well as anorexia. It is not clinically regonised as an eating disorder but people can still struggle with the symptoms. Find out more about Orthorexia.
Boys can have eating disorders too
It might be less talked about, but boys and men can experience eating disorders too. Research suggests that one in four people with an eating disorder is male.
There is no need to be ashamed and there is support out there. Watch the video on this page about Charles, a 17 year old boy who has been battling anorexia for two years.
Over-exercise - a symptom of eating disorders
One of the symptoms of an eating disorder can be the urge to over-exercise. This can be because of a desire to be 'thin', or because of an obsession with getting a 'muscular' body shape (typically more so with young men).
Many young men and women experience compulsive exercising alongside an eating disorder, and it can be dangerous. If you think you might be exercising too much or it's taking over your thoughts, you can get help.
Take a look at the info below to see how you can get help and support.