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Eating disorders not otherwise specified

“Eating disorders not otherwise specified” (EDNOS) is the term applied to a wide range of disorders that do not meet the full diagnostic criteria for anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa.

The criteria for diagnosing mental health conditions are all listed in a manual called the DSM-V. Included in this manual are conditions like anorexia and bulimia. The EDNOS category is included to represent people who don’t match every part of one of the other diagnoses.

This might mean that a person matches most criteria for anorexia nervosa, but has not lost as much weight as is required for a formal diagnosis

. It may also mean a person who meets most of the requirements for a diagnosis of bulimia nervosa, but their bingeing and purging behaviours aren’t as frequent as is required for a full diagnosis.

Criteria review

It’s estimated that as many as 50% of those affected by eating disorders fit into this ‘grey area’ of diagnosis. As a result, the organisation who develop the DSM are currently reviewing the criteria to make it easier for both doctors and their patients to understand their diagnosis.

If a person receives a diagnosis of EDNOS, it’s important to acknowledge the validity of their condition. 

The behaviours associated with EDNOS, and the potential impact of those behaviours, are as serious as with any other eating disorder and should be treated as such.

The emotional background or causes will also often be very similar, so the treatment routes would be the same as those for one of the other possible diagnoses. See eating disorders, recovering from an eating disorder and face-to-face help for information and advice on getting the right help.


This section has been produced in collaboration with Bodywhys.

This article was last reviewed on 03 May 2017

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