Eating Disorders

Anorexia nervosa /Bulimia nervosa / Binge eating disorder / Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID)


More than 30 million Americans have an eating disorder, and 95% of them are aged 12-25. If you think your child has an eating disorder, contact Colleen Copelan, MD. Dr. Copelan is a board-certified child and adolescent psychiatrist in Camarillo, California, who diagnoses and treats young people with eating disorders. Eating disorders negatively impact nearly every organ in the body, so don’t ignore the signs. Call Dr. Copelan to make an appointment today.

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What are eating disorders?

Eating disorders are common, dangerous mental health conditions that cause abnormal eating behaviors and related thoughts and emotions. Eating disorders are among the most deadly mental health conditions. 

There are five main types of eating disorders:

    Anorexia nervosa
    Bulimia nervosa
    Binge eating disorder
    Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID)
    Other specified feeding or eating disorder (OSFED)

Whether you severely restrict your caloric intake, overeat, or purge, the stress on your body affects nearly every organ and system, leading to long-lasting health problems. 

What causes eating disorders?

Contrary to popular misconceptions, eating disorders aren’t always related to body image or a desire to be slim. While girls and young women are more likely to have an eating disorder, boys and young men can also have an eating disorder.

Eating disorders can stem from a need for control or discipline. Young people might also develop an eating disorder if they participate in a sport that focuses on weight like ballet, gymnastics, or wrestling.

A family history of an eating disorder or other mental health conditions like depression or anxiety also increases your risk of food intake disorders.

What are the signs of eating disorders?

Different eating disorders cause varying symptoms. For example, if your child has anorexia, they might:

Eat very little

Become extremely picky about food

Refuse meals or say they ate earlier

Abuse laxatives or diuretics

However, if your child has bulimia, they live through a cycle of out-of-control eating, followed by purging, such as vomiting or abusing laxatives. They might also exercise compulsively. Your child might behave secretively to hide their symptoms.

Binge eating disorder causes the out-of-control eating that’s also common in bulimia. Your child might feel guilty or upset about binging but doesn’t purge.

ARFID might appear as extreme pickiness or disinterest in food. Your child might object to the smell, texture, or taste of certain foods. They might have a fear of choking or vomiting. However, your child won’t be concerned about their weight or have a poor or distorted body image.

OSFED, formerly known as eating disorder not otherwise specified, includes patients with severely disordered eating, thoughts, and feelings that don’t meet the diagnostic criteria for other disorders.

This doesn’t mean that OSFED isn’t dangerous. It’s still potentially life-threatening, but treatable.

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How do you treat eating disorders?

Dr. Copelan provides comprehensive, customized treatment plans to help your child recover from an eating disorder. She combines medication and therapy to help your child and might recommend family therapy to help you learn how to support your child.
Many children benefit from therapy to resolve the underlying issues that contribute to their disordered thinking. They also learn techniques to cope with urges to restrict, binge, or purge.

Eating disorder recovery takes time and patience, and Colleen Copelan, MD, can help.