Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED), formally known as Eating Disorder None Other Specified (EDNOS)  is a serious psychological illness which impacts greatly on all aspects of the person’s life. OSFED can affect anyone regardless of age, gender and background. OSFED is characterised by the person engaging in a variety of eating disorder behaviours common to anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder but the person does not meet all the criteria for the diagnosis of an individual category. 

Specific examples of OSFED include:

  • Atypical anorexia: whereby someone presents with all the characteristics of anorexia nervosa but their weight remains in a normal range. 
  • Bulimia nervosa (of low frequency and/or limited duration): whereby someone presents with all the characteristics of bulimia but the person doesn’t experience the binge/purge cycle for as often or over as long a period of time.
  • Binge eating disorder (of low frequency/or limited duration): whereby someone presents with all the characteristics of binge eating disorder except the binge episodes do not happen as often or over as long a period of time.
  • Purging disorder: whereby someone purges to affect their weight but not in the context of a binge/purge cycle.
  • Night eating syndrome: whereby someone experiences recurring episodes of night eating

It is very important to note that OSFED is just as serious an illness as the other eating disorders and also needs adequate intervention to enable the person to move beyond their difficulties. Similar to the other eating disorders, OSFED is not primarily about food, weight and shape. Rather, similar to the other eating disorders OSFED is actually about thoughts and feelings and what is going on for the person in their mind. Beneath the surface and the outward manifestation of the illness, lays a person who is greatly struggling with their world. OSFED is fundamentally a coping mechanism for dealing with emotions and feelings. It is the way in which the person has developed to deal with their world. It is important to remember that no-one chooses to develop an eating disorder rather it is a complex psychological illness that develops for a range of various reasons. 

Getting Help and Recovery

It is important to know that recovery from all eating disorders is ALWAYS possible, whatever stage the person is at in the illness, recovery is possible. The prognosis of OSFED  is greatly improved with early and immediate access to treatment. It is very important therefore, if you are concerned that you have OSFED or you are worried someone you care about has OSFED , that you seek help and speak to someone immediately. The first step in getting help is usually by making an appointment with your G.P. Eating Disorders Association (N.I.) offer a range of services that may help you and your loved ones journey to recovery and can help guide you through the professional services that are available. Please feel free to contact us today in confidence for support.

Please see our leaflet ‘About Eating Disorders’ for more information.

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