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Mental Health Care for OSFED

Eating disorders are more than just food. They are mental illnesses. Food just becomes a medium to cope with other issues. These disorders affect our emotions, feelings, and overall mental well-being.

Furthermore, it is tough to pinpoint these causes and tackle them accordingly. Therefore, you need to consult a mental healthcare provider to provide you with an expert and exact diagnosis. This will allow for an appropriate treatment plan that caters to your issues and problems.

On this page
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About OSFED Therapy
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About OSFED Therapy
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Therapists / Counselors for OSFED Therapy
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A Quick Overview
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Major Causes
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Common Signs
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Risk Factors
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Complications and Health Problems
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How to Deal With Your Symptoms
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Get Treatment From a Licensed Therapist Who’s Right For You
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Schedule a Virtual Psychotherapy Appointment with a Counsellor Today

Mental Health Care for OSFED

Eating disorders are more than just food. They are mental illnesses. Food just becomes a medium to cope with other issues. These disorders affect our emotions, feelings, and overall mental well-being.

Furthermore, it is tough to pinpoint these causes and tackle them accordingly. Therefore, you need to consult a mental healthcare provider to provide you with an expert and exact diagnosis. This will allow for an appropriate treatment plan that caters to your issues and problems.


It is one of the most common eating disorders. It is estimated that 30% of the people diagnosed with an eating disorder are affected by OSFED.
The main diagnostic criteria for any eating disorder is an individual facing significant distress and impairment in social, professional, or other areas of life. But if the symptoms don't meet the full diagnostic criteria of any specific eating disorder like bulimia or anorexia, they come under OSFED. It may mirror some signs of an established eating disorder but will miss some vital criteria.
Yes, it can lead to life-threatening health consequences. These could include kidney failure, cardiac arrest, and rupture in the stomach or esophagus. The cause could be binge eating or vomiting.
Consult your healthcare provider if you notice any symptoms. After proper evaluation and some lab tests, they might be able to diagnose the condition. They might refer you to an eating disorder specialist based on their assessment. You can also consult a psychologist if it is causing distress and anxiety.
Treatment will depend on the doctor's evaluation of your symptoms, causes, and severity. It could include therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes.

A Quick Overview

Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorder (OSFED) is an umbrella term for many eating disorders. This encompasses several health issues that don't fit the diagnostic criteria for any other eating disorder. While there is a list of expected physical, behavioral, and psychological symptoms for conditions like binge-eating disorder, bulimia, and anorexia nervosa, behavioral patterns or symptoms that don't fit that list are diagnosed as OSFED. This term has replaced the "Eating disorder not otherwise specified," which was earlier used by The Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

That sounds like a lot of things, right? We will break it down for you and explain its different aspects. Maybe you are highly conscious about your body weight and shape. So, you started eating healthy to manipulate the weight. Now, you follow a strict diet and skip a meal here and there to stay within the calorie deficit. This resulted in recurring sleep disruptions because of hunger late at night.

Reflect on this: You may have started with symptoms of anorexia nervosa, which might have developed into the signs of a purging disorder. This later transformed into exhibiting the signs of a night-eating syndrome.

Thus, eating disorders are shapeshifters. They often lead to one another. So OSFED brings many of them under one term to facilitate focus on treatment rather than constant and recurring diagnosis. Some specific examples of this umbrella term are:

  • Atypical anorexia nervosa: In this, the individual shows all the symptoms of anorexia, but the weight remains within the "normal" range.
  • Purging disorder: This involves recurring episodes of purging through self-induced vomiting or using laxatives to influence weight and body shape. But this happens in the absence of binge eating episodes.
  • Bulimia nervosa (low frequency and/or limited duration): All the signs and symptoms of Builima, but the cycles don't happen as frequently or over as long as normal Bulimia.
  • Night eating syndrome: This includes repeated episodes of nocturnal ingestion. A significant portion of an individual's daily calorie intake is consumed at night.
  • Binge eating disorder (low frequency and/or limited duration): Again, all the symptoms of Binge eating disorder but the frequency and duration are less in comparison.
  • Diabulimia: This is when an individual with diabetes (usually type 1) misuses insulin to influence body weight.

These are just a few examples. As they follow one another, repeatedly diagnosing the patient with a new condition can be challenging.

Major Causes

As this condition encompasses various disorders, the causes are also vast. They may vary from person to person. They are often a combination of social, environmental, and cultural factors. Other than that, genetics may also play a huge part in causing a lot of eating disorders. Some of the causes of OSFED are:

  • Unresolved underlying emotions and feelings
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Bullying
  • Childhood trauma
  • Low self-esteem
  • Trait of perfectionism
  • Poor interpersonal relationship skills
  • Family history of obesity
  • Family history of any psychiatric disorder
  • Temperament
  • Neurobiology
  • Discomfort with sexuality
  • Difficulty adapting to changes
  • Substance use disorder
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Excessive dieting
  • The idolization of diet culture and equating thin body type with good and ideal
  • The perception of an ideal body type and the urge to achieve or maintain it

Common Signs

Many symptoms of OSFED overlap with other specific eating disorders, but they don't meet all the criteria. Most of them revolve around disordered behavior and thoughts about food and eating. Signs could be physical, psychological, and behavioral.

Physical signs include:

  • Fluctuations in body weight (significant gain or loss)
  • Intolerance to cold
  • Loss of libido (sex drive)
  • Poor or impaired immune functioning
  • Fainting and dizziness
  • Swelling in feet and hands
  • Sensitive teeth or dental issues
  • Dry skin, hair, and nails
  • Swelling around cheeks and jaws
  • Abnormal test findings like low hormone levels, thyroid, and potassium
  • Bloating
  • Stomach cramps, constipation, and acid reflux
  • Women might have irregularities in their menstrual cycle. It could also lead to missing periods.

Psychological signs include:

  • Obsession with body image, dieting or eating in general
  • Feeling ashamed or guilty after episodes of excessive food consumption
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety and depression, especially around meal times
  • Dissatisfaction with one's own body or having a distorted body image
  • Extremely sensitive to comments about dieting, food, and body
  • Self-loathing

Behavioral and emotional signs include:

  • Restrictive food intake
  • Skipping meals
  • Keeping a tight count on calorie intake
  • Avoiding certain food groups altogether
  • New food practices
  • Developing unusual food rituals like chewing a certain number of times
  • Drinking a lot of water and other calorie-free drinks
  • Eating in private and avoiding social meals
  • Becoming antisocial
  • Denial of hunger
  • Layered clothing to hide the perceived "flaws"
  • Constantly checking yourself in the mirror and checking your weight
  • Purging or Vomiting (less frequently than once a week)
  • Hiding food in unusual spots
  • Frequent visits to the bathroom
  • Signs of binging - like unexplained disappearance of food or lots or wrappers
  • Overuse of mouthwash, gum, and mint
  • Extreme and frequent mood swings

Risk Factors

Risk factors could be biological, psychological, and sociocultural. These include:

  • Genetics
  • Family history of eating disorders
  • Low self-esteem
  • Normalizing diet culture and idolizing health-based social media influencers
  • Depression
  • History of trauma
  • Professions and sports that require "ideal" body weight and appearance
  • Other mental health conditions like OCD
  • Peer pressure or societal expectations of having a particular body shape

Complications and Health Problems

There is a common misconception that this is a milder eating disorder than others. Just because a bunch of them are clubbed together doesn't mean they are not serious. Any eating disorder under OSFED can lead to serious problems affecting your mental and physical health. Some of the possible health complications include:

  • Low blood pressure and slow heart rate
  • Electrolyte imbalance can cause cardiac arrest or seizures
  • Reduced metabolic rate and slow digestion
  • Weakened bones
  • A lower level of sex hormones with even a possibility of infertility
  • Abdominal discomfort and constipation
  • Intestinal blockages
  • Fluctuations in sugar level
  • Bacterial infection
  • Swollen salivary glands
  • Pancreatitis
  • Poisoning
  • Difficulty in sleeping and concentrating
  • Sleep apnea
  • Fatigue and muscle cramps
  • Damage to peripheral nerves
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Kidney failure
  • Anemia
  • Significant weight loss or malnutrition

How to Deal With Your Symptoms

The complexity of the causes and other consequences can make it hard to tackle this condition by yourself. You will need to consult your healthcare provider for a proper treatment plan. Along with that, you will need support from your family and friends. As the disorder impacts our behavioral and eating patterns, it is tough to control the urges overnight.

Educate people who are close to you about your issue. Make them understand the reason and seek their support. Eating disorders can push you into isolation, and that will only make it worse. Support from loved ones can boost your self-esteem and give you the patience to persist with treatment. You can take their help in setting obstacles to food items. This can help reduce your binging episodes.

Another tip that can help you cope with symptoms is consuming nutritional food. Eating disorders can cause malnutrition and obesity—two extremes of body weight you don't want to be at. Healthy food provides the required nutrients to maintain a healthy body weight and gives you the needed energy. It can also reduce untimely hunger pangs and your craving for sugar or fat-rich food.

Additionally, you can join support groups to connect with people who went or are going through the same issues. Support is critical to counter feelings of depression and significant distress.

Get Treatment From a Licensed Therapist Who’s Right For You

As the disorders flow into one another, it can be difficult to catch onto symptoms. A mental healthcare professional must look into your symptoms, medical and family histories, and eating practices. After a thorough evaluation, they will recommend a treatment plan. Treatment for OSFED is also often multidisciplinary - combination of therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes, as seen fit by the therapist. You may even need to consult a dietician for necessary changes in your diet.

Different therapies that may be recommended are:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Individual therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Weight loss therapy

Schedule a Virtual Psychotherapy Appointment with a Counsellor Today

If you are struggling with your eating behavior and patterns, or if you or anyone you know is obsessed with food and body weight to the extent that it is becoming dangerous, you should get in touch with our counselors. They will be able to provide you with expert evaluation and clear all your doubts. The sooner you begin the treatment, the easier it is for doctors to tackle it.

Schedule an appointment now and entrust our experienced therapists with a treatment plan that will work best for you!