What is OSFED (Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorders)?
Many people who have eating disorders do not meet all the diagnostic criteria for either Anorexia or Bulimia. For example, if someone is 14% below ideal body and the diagnostic criteria indicates that they have to be 15% below to have Anorexia Nervosa, then, they do not officially meet the diagnosis. This holds true for someone who has been binging and purging numerous times a day, but for less than 6 months; which is the duration necessary for the diagnosis of Bulimia. However, the eating disorder is just as real and serious as when all diagnostic criteria are met. Yet, the official diagnosis will be stated as OSFED. The tendency to minimize the magnitude or intrusiveness of the eating disorder behaviors and to believe that there is “no real problem” is a position that is frequently, and errantly, held.
Plagued by obsessive thoughts about what is going to be eaten, or not eaten, when exercise is going to take place and how is it all going to work out, or how to get rid of “all that food that was just eaten” are all familiar dilemmas for those with Bulimia or OSFED. Additionally, since these individuals frequently believe that they “are failures even at having an eating disorder, and that their body weight and size are so great” they are embarrassed and ashamed to admit to their struggles. Many of them suffer in silence and humiliation.
How does it start?
Many times, OSFED may develop from a seemingly harmless health goal, such as fitting into an old pair of jeans or just getting active to improve your health. There are underlying issues for some individuals that have caused such painful feelings that the binge behavior (that is experienced by all who struggle with EDNOS) is a temporary distraction that seems like a much more comfortable place than staying with the miserable way they feel. For a short while after the binge or purge it seems worth the effort, but that is transient and then whatever the problems were resurface and the cycle continues. Feeling trapped in a vicious repetitive dark place consumes those who struggle with OSFED.
How would I know if this is what I have?
Like Bulimia and Anorexia, OSFED can develop at any time and basically at any age. Many people who have struggled with attempting to restrict and trying to develop Anorexia, the “glorified eating disorder”, often go on to develop a sub-clinical eating disorder, namely called EDNOS. After a prolonged period of restricting, the body may respond to starvation by being triggered to overeating or binging in an out of control manner, to preserve itself. Feelings of guilt and disgust are feelings that frequently follow this act. Many times these feelings are so extreme that some kind of relief is sought through engaging in eating disorder behaviors. These behaviors could include a form of extreme exercise that may last for hours even though there is an existing injury, throwing up, taking laxatives far beyond the recommended dose, or taking other medications such as diet pills or water pills to help reduce weight. When these attempts do not seem to off-set the nutritional intake, the individual usually feels even more disgusted. Many times depression and anxiety accompanies OSFED, as well as Bulimia and Anorexia.
So, what would be the big deal if I did have OSFED?
Few people know that although an EDNOS and Bulimia are typically not as life-threatening as Anorexia, they can lead to a miserable existence and even death. Serious complications such as potassium and sodium depletion can have fatal outcomes even when someone does not meet all criteria for a full-blown eating disorder. These electrolytes have important roles in our lives; For example, they regulate cardiac function and fluid balance. Risk of esophageal tears or hemorrhage is a constant potential when anyone throws up, however, the risk of damage or death is heightened when the frequency of purging increases. Unfortunately, denial reduces fear even when blood is seen in vomit or when someone passes out. So many people who struggle with OSFED as well as Bulimia go undetected since they minimize their severity. When they have not passed out, or are not underweight, they may ridicule themselves for their lack of will-power.
Eating Disorders, including OSFED and Bulimia, cause more deaths than any other mental health issue or disorder. However, they are the leading cause of death in the young female population. Many think, “Oh that would never happen to me”, and for many it does not, but over 500,000 lose this battle every year.
There is no need for anyone to struggle with or die from EDNOS or any other eating disorder. Stepping out of the darkness of denial and having a voice to let those who care help is the first step to Recovery. Recognizing that the person is not the eating disorder is critical to separating from the convincing and destructive nature of OSFED.
Will it ever go away?
At Canopy Cove we believe that every person has the ability to separate and recover from an OSFED, in spite of the fear that is felt as they begin to think about life without it. Everyone has the capacity to feel their feelings and make it through. We strongly encourage and support our clients as they work through this war.
How will your treatment help me?
We believe that treatment at Canopy Cove will be a helpful part of your Recovery. Overcoming an eating disorder is a long and difficult process filled with detours, however, Recovery is possible. Whether we join you in the beginning of your journey, or later in your process, we will help you to identify, challenge, and overcome the obstacles that your eating disorder has placed in your path.
We have created an environment that offers serenity and beauty to help you feel as comfortable as possible. Treatment takes place on a beautiful, 55 acre protected property in a secure and non-judgmental home-like setting. You receive daily treatment and around the clock care with other clients in your age group, either adult or adolescent. Each day consists of multiple, continuous therapy sessions such as individual, group, equine, spirituality, or dietary, all of which are focused on helping you develop positive coping skills.
Our staff is always there to help you through the difficult times such as during meals and when you are feeling homesick. A serenity walk down the canopied road or a visit with one of our friendly horses right outside the door can bring a sense of peace. Nature therapy and spirituality are conducted multiple times weekly. Family therapy and visitations occur during the week as well.
Questions? Concerns? Feel free to call us at 888-245-6555 and we will be happy to answer any questions you may have!