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Eating disorders


Eating disorders involve a preoccupation with control over eating, food and body weight. Left unaddressed the medical, psychological and social consequences can be serious and long term. Eating disorders are associated with significant physical complications, psychological distress and increased mortality.

Types of eating disorders include

  • anorexia nervosa;
  • bulimia nervosa;
  • binge eating disorder; and
  • avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder.


Eating disorders can have many combinations of signs, symptoms and causes depending on the type of eating disorder present. Some common symptoms include:

  • adherence to increasingly strict diets, regardless of your weight;
  • habitual trips to the bathroom immediately after eating;
  • self-induced vomiting;
  • eating to the point of discomfort or pain;
  • eating in secret;
  • frequent use of laxatives, diuretics or diet pills;
  • exercising compulsively, often several hours per day; or
  • using prescription stimulant medications or illicit stimulant drugs to suppress appetite.

How an eating disorder can affect you

Eating disorders are serious, potentially life-threatening conditions that affect your emotional and physical health. Eating disorders can take many different forms and interfere with day-to-day life, work and university study. Eating disorders rarely exist in isolation and are commonly accompanied by depression and anxiety disorders.

Experiencing an eating disorder can be one of the most isolating and distressing experiences a person can face. It is important to seek help to assist your recovery because eating disorders can be particularly difficulty to deal with alone.

What to do

Managing an eating disorder

With proper treatment and a high level of personal commitment, recovery from an eating disorder is achievable. The sooner you start treatment for an eating disorder, the shorter the recovery process will be. Seeking help at the first warning sign is much more effective than waiting until the illness is in full swing. If you suspect that you or someone you know has an eating disorder it is important to seek help at once.

Getting support

Deakin's Counselling service and Deakin Medical Centre are available to support you if you suspect you have an eating disorder.

Eating Disorders Victoria provide and support for those with an eating disorder, including their family and friends. Their website also has a online support groups for people experiencing eating disorders and the family and friends of people experiencing eating disorders.

The Butterfly Foundation provide resources, information and support to people experiencing eating disorders in Australia. They also have a national helpline (1800 33 4673), online chat , and email support services for those who need to speak to someone right now.


ReachOut provide information and personal stories of people who have experienced and recovered from eating disorders.

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Page custodian: Student Services