Eating disorders are real, treatable medical illnesses. They are not due to bad behavior or lack of will power. They involve serious disturbances in eating behavior. Eating disorders take on a life of their own and can lead to serious heart conditions, kidney failure and death. The two main types of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Binge eating is considered by many to be a third type. They normally develop during adolescence, but can develop earlier or later. They are much more common in females.
Eating disorders can be treated and the outcomes are generally better the earlier the intervention occurs. People with eating disorders often do not recognize or admit their illness and may resist getting treatment. Some people may require long-term treatment and severe cases may require inpatient treatment to address the physical problems related to the management of severe weight loss.