Are Eating Disorders Behavioral Health Issues?

woman slicing celery on plate

Eating disorders are a behavioral health issue.  Eating disorders include bulimia, anorexia, and binge eating disorder. All three can have emotional, behavioral, and physical effects on the individual and can even be life-threatening for both males and females.

Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa are a behavioral health issue in addition to being much more.  A person with anorexia will go to great lengths to hide their weight through wearing bulky clothes or pretending to eat food even when they are not.  Calorie restriction is common with anorexics and the daily number of calories is far below the recommended daily requirement.  Additionally, the anorexic will exercise excessively throughout the day and may take laxatives or diuretics to keep from gaining weight.  An anorexic has an underlying fear of gaining weight and a distorted body image.  They see themselves as overweight even when the scale puts them within a normal range for their height.

A person with bulimia can consume over 10,000 calories per day.  The behaviors associated with consuming this amount of food includes shopping for the food and hiding the food from family members.  With bulimia, another behavioral health issue is the purging that occurs following consumption of food.  Bulimics can experience health-related issues such as an inflamed esophagus or tearing of the throat lining.  There is a great deal of dishonest behavior that occurs with bulimics including lying to family members and friends.  They too will go to great lengths to hide their behavior.

Binge-eating disorder is also known as compulsive overeating.  Individuals will consume large amounts of food on average two times per week for six months or more.  The person with this disorder will have difficulty in stopping the behavior, once started.  Mental health issues are commonly present including depression and anxiety.

There are biological, psychological, and social factors at play with eating disorders.  A person can have a hormonal imbalance, which causes the overeating.  Psychological factors include low self-esteem, depression, lack of control over life in general, and an inability to experience healthy expression of emotions.  Eating disorders are commonly seen with those who have been sexually abused or who experience social pressures from peer groups and the media to look a certain way.


Changing your life in eating disorder recovery means making certain behavioral changes which support your healing in mind, body, and spirit. Avalon Malibu is a leading provider of primary mental health and co-occurring substance use disorder treatment, including eating disorders. Located on the iconic coastline of Malibu, California our beautiful homes offer the comfort, luxury, and privacy needed to recover. Call us today for a confidential assessment and more information: (888) 958-7511


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