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Eating Disorders

by The Mind Faculty

An eating disorders is usually characterised by an unhealthy relationship with food as well as body image. The illness is thought to affect about 1% of the Malaysian population.

Worryingly, anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder.

That is why it is important to identify this early and get the treatment you need. Girls as young as eleven years old have been diagnosed with anorexia. Despite the stereotype that eating disorders only affect women, it is also prevalent among men. This may make it more difficult for men and boys to seek help.

Common type of eating disorders


People who suffer from anorexia usually have a fear of gaining weight. They may be obsessed with losing weight and being thin. They eat very little or not at all, even when they are hungry.

People with anorexia often have a distorted body image. They may insist they are too fat or that some parts of their body are too big, even when family and friends know that they are dangerously underweight.

A person with anorexia may:

  • Hide, pick at, crumble or throw away food.

  • Cut food into small pieces or move it around the plate.

  • Spend much of their time focusing on food, reading recipes.

  • Wear baggy clothes or layers of clothes to hide weight loss or keep warm.

  • Over-exercise. (This may include exercise when it interferes with other activities, or despite injuries or medical complications).


Bulimia affects how you feel about your body and how you eat. People with bulimia usually diet and try to control what they eat.

This is usually characterised by cycles of binging and purging. People with bulimia often binge – saying they feel out of control – which is followed by feelings of guilt and disgust with how much food they’ve eaten. Subsequently, they will force themselves to purge the food (usually through vomiting, laxatives or diuretics).

This is a dangerous way of trying to manage weight, and purging is generally not an effective way to control weight. They purge or over-exercise because they are scared they will gain weight.

This binge-purge cycle is regular and occurs at least once a week.

Binge-eating Disorder

People with binge-eating disorder (BED) eat a large amount of food in a short time. They also my eat alone, or eat very quickly or when they are not hungry. They binge regularly, at least once per week. They also experience distress about their binge eating.

It is different from bulimia because people who binge do not purge or try to get rid of the calories they have just eaten. This disorder is sometimes called compulsive eating.

Other Specified Eating Disorders

Some people have many but not all of the symptoms of anorexia, bulimia or binge-eating disorder.


  • Atypical anorexia nervosa Someone who has all the symptoms of anorexia but is not considered to be underweight.

  • Bulimia (low frequency and duration) Someone who regularly binge eats and then uses some type of behaviour to compensate for the binge through purging, exercising or fasting. However they do this less often tha once per week.

  • Binge-eating disorder (low frequency and duration) Someone who regularly binge eats but who binges less than once a week.

  • Purging disorder Someone who purges (vomits, misuses laxatives, diuretic or other medications) to try control body weight but who is not underweight and who does not regularly purge.


If you or one of your loved ones is exhibiting these symptoms, it’s important to reach out for help.

We run a structured outpatient care program that is based on a bio-psycho-social model. We address the biological, psychological and social aspects of the eating disorder.

Your care will be overseen by our multidisciplinary team of practitioners:

  • A psychiatrist will help to diagnose and identify any medical concerns, co-occurring or co-morbid issues (a condition that co-occurs with another).

  • A psychologist will be responsible for therapeutic interventions.

  • A dietician to help with nutritional counselling.

  • A family therapist who will be responsible for addressing potential family issues and functionality.

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