If you experience some but not all of the diagnostic criteria for another eating disorder or you experience a mix of symptoms from several different eating disorders you might have OSFED.

People of any age, race, ethnicity, or sex can suffer from eating disorders, and the causes and symptoms of each one are complex. All eating disorders can be very dangerous and can lead to serious health complications - even death. Take our online self-assessment to see if you or a loved one may have symptoms of an eating disorder and find out more about how to get help. 

Symptoms

The symptoms of OSFED are similar to those of other eating disorders, but don’t quite perfectly fit any of those diagnostic criteria. Every eating disorder is different, and your eating disorder will have some unique characteristics. If you suspect that you or someone you love may have an eating disorder like OSFED, or you’ve read up on eating disorders and just can’t figure out which one matches your symptoms, you’ll want to speak with your doctor or therapist right away to determine how you can best be treated. Some symptoms of OSFED include:

  • Indications that weight loss and control of your eating or food is a primary concern of yours
  • The design and carrying out of elaborate plans or rituals around eating, such as eating in a certain direction around the plate or chewing a certain number of times
  • A preoccupation with your weight, feeling unworthy or unattractive; body image issues
  • Refusing to eat certain foods or categories of food, and rigid counting of nutritional elements of food such as fats or carbohydrates
  • Secretive behavior, especially surrounding food; hoarding food or using laxatives
  • Sudden, noticeable, and unexplained weight loss or gain
  • Fear of eating in public or avoiding social events that involve food
  • Dizziness, coldness, muscle weakness, tiredness, and lethargy
  • A tendency to wear figure-hiding clothing or clothing that is much too big
  • Dry skin, nails, and hair or hair loss
  • Dental problems including increased cavities, discolored teeth, and jaw, neck or throat pain 
  • Obsessive or ritualistic exercise
  • Extreme guilt, fear or anxiety regarding food, eating, and body appearance
  • Sudden new practices with food or food groups such as fad diets, food journaling, and eliminating entire food groups
  • Extreme mood swings and constant anxiety

Causes

Eating disorders like OSFED are often caused by a combination of factors. While there is no one event or trigger to point to in order to signify the onset of an eating disorder, some factors may make you more likely to develop a pattern of disordered eating or a condition like OSFED. These factors include:

  • Certain genetic or heritable traits including perfectionism, rigidity, harm avoidance, and obsessionality 
  • A history of dieting or weight-loss behaviors 
  • A history or family history of depression or anxiety
  • Having a previous eating disorder
  • A history of trauma and abuse, especially sexual abuse or assault
  • Having a substance use disorder
  • Having previously experienced a painful gastrointestinal issue like colitis or food poisoning
  • Pervasive sociological and cultural messaging equating thinness with goodness
  • An untreated medical condition like depression, anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Stress or discomfort with developmental milestones or your sexuality
  • Social or cultural pressure to maintain an idealized body type

Treatment

Recovering from an eating disorder like OSFED can be a challenging time for you and your family. The Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt can help. An individualized treatment plan that includes elements like medication, therapy, and support can help you get back to living life to the fullest. 

It’s important to note that although OSFED is not as commonly known as other eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia, it can be just as devastating with similar medical consequences and severity of symptoms. Early intervention and treatment is just as important for OSFED as it is for all other eating disorders.

Medication: If you have OSFED, you may also have another disorder like anxiety or depression. Talk to your doctor or therapist about what medications would be best to help you make progress. 

Therapy: By exploring the roots and causes of your condition through therapy, you can learn new ways to cope. Individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy, and other types of therapy are available at Sheppard Pratt. See our therapy options. 

Education: Learning more about your condition will not only help you spot your triggers and determine when you may need extra help, but it will also help you explain your condition to your family and friends. Read more about OSFED.

Support: Support groups including meetup groups, workshops, family support groups and other support options can help you recover from OSFED. Find the support that you and your family need at Sheppard Pratt.