What Is OSFED?

Other Specific Feeding or Eating Disorders (OSFED) previously known as Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS) is a group of disorders characterized by symptoms that do not meet the full criteria for the diagnosis of any other eating disorder.  A 2018-19 study found that of the 5.84 million eating disorder (ED) cases, the most common ED was OSFED with a 1.18% prevalence in females and 0.27% in males.     

OSFED includes a wide range of disorders, such as Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID), Binge Eating Disorder (BED), Night Eating Syndrome (NES), Pica, and Rumination Disorder. These disorders can have serious physical, psychological, and social implications if not addressed appropriately. 

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What Causes OSFED?

The exact cause of Other Specific Feeding or Eating Disorders (OSFED) is not yet known, but there are several factors that can contribute to the development of this disorder.

Some Causes Of OSFED

  • Biological factors Such as genetics, hormones, and changes in brain chemicals may play a role in developing OSFED. 
  • Psychological factors Such as low self-esteem, negative body image, and difficulty regulating emotions can also be associated with OSFED.
  • Environmental factors Like stress, family dynamics, peer pressure, and cultural pressures can also contribute to the development of OSFED

It is important to note that OSFED is not caused by any one factor, but rather a combination of them. Individuals with OSFED are likely to have other underlying mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) which may have contributed to the development of OSFED. Eating disorders are serious mental health issues and should be treated as such. 

Examples Of OSFED

Other Specific Feeding or Eating Disorders (OSFED) are a group of eating disorders that are characterized by maladaptive habits related to food and eating that cause significant distress and can lead to serious medical complications. The most recognized eating disorder categories include Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder, Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) and Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorders (OSFED). 

OSFED is a broad diagnosis that includes a variety of different conditions, such as: 

Atypical Anorexia Nervosa

A condition where an individual does not meet the full criteria for Anorexia Nervosa, however they still display many of the same symptoms 

Purging Disorder

A condition in which an individual engages in self-induced vomiting or the misuse of laxatives, diuretics, or other medications to control their weight 

Night Eating Syndrome (NES)

An excessive intake of food during the evening hours that is not compensatory 

Binge Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified

A condition characterized by recurrent episodes of binge eating without the compensatory behaviors associated with Bulimia Nervosa 

Other specified feeding or eating disorder (OSFED)

A condition where an individual’s eating disorder does not meet the full criteria for any specific eating disorder 

It is important to note that although these conditions may share similar symptoms, they are distinct entities and should be treated as such. If you think that you or someone you care about may be suffering from OSFED or any other eating disorder, it is important to seek professional help. Treatment can range from therapy, nutrition counseling, and medication management, depending on the severity and complexity of the disorder. 

Evaluation/Diagnosis Of OSFED

It is important to have an accurate diagnosis of Other Specific Feeding or Eating Disorders (OSFED) in order to receive the best treatment and care. A diagnosis of OSFED is done by a professional with expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of eating disorders. The professional will assess the individual’s physical, mental, and emotional health as well as their eating behaviors and habits. 

During an evaluation, the clinician will ask questions about symptoms and medical history. It is also important to include information about any past or current eating disorder diagnoses, family history of eating disorders, any substance use, and the presence of any other physical or mental health conditions. 

For a diagnosis of OSFED to be made, the person must meet certain criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). These criteria include having a body weight that is below what is considered healthy for their age and gender, an intense fear of gaining weight, and having disturbed eating behaviors.  

If the person has been diagnosed with another eating disorder, such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa, and does not meet the full criteria for either of those conditions, but still shows signs of having an eating disorder, they may be diagnosed with OSFED. 

In addition to assessing symptoms and diagnostic criteria, a health professional will also perform a physical examination and order lab tests to evaluate general health and nutrition levels. This evaluation can help to determine if there are any underlying medical problems that could be contributing to the eating disorder. 

Getting an accurate diagnosis is important because it can provide a comprehensive plan for treatment that includes physical, emotional, and behavioral therapy. With the right treatment and support, people living with OSFED can work toward recovery. 

Symptoms Of OSFED

Other Specific Feeding or Eating Disorders (OSFED) is an umbrella term used to describe eating disorders that do not meet the full criteria for anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, or avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder. People with OSFED may display a range of behaviors and symptoms that involve disturbed eating patterns. 

Common signs and symptoms of OSFED include: 

Physical Symptoms:

  • Digestive problems 
  • Fatigue 
  • Feeling faint or lightheaded 
  • Constipation 
  • Dizziness 
  • Dry skin and hair 
  • Low blood pressure 
  • Low blood sugar 
  • Menstrual irregularities.  

Additionally, people with OSFED are more likely to be dehydrated, malnourished, and have vitamin and mineral deficiencies. 

Mental Symptoms:

  • Feelings of anxiety 
  • Depression 
  • Low self-esteem 
  • Poor body image 
  • Preoccupation with food, weight, and body size.  

They may also have difficulty focusing, have trouble sleeping, or experience obsessive thoughts about food and/or weight. 

Behavioral Symptoms:

  • Avoiding meals 
  • Exercising excessively 
  • Skipping meals or binging and purging.  
  • They may also engage in behaviors to hide their eating disorder such as wearing baggy clothing or lying about what they have eaten.  

Those suffering from OSFED may also display compulsive behaviors related to food, such as hoarding food or eating secretly. 

It is important to note that these behaviors may be present but not as extreme as seen in other eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia. However, they can still cause serious health complications if left untreated. 

OSFED Can Lead To Serious Health Complications

Eating disorders, particularly Other Specific Feeding or Eating Disorders (OSFED), can have serious consequences on physical and mental health. OSFED can lead to:  

  • Low self-esteem 
  • Depression 
  • Anxiety  
  • Malnutrition 
  • Fatigue 
  • Anemia 
  • Organ failure 
  • Death in extreme cases.  

It is important to be aware of the potential health complications of OSFED so that individuals struggling with these disorders can seek help in time. 

Treatment For OSFED

Other Specific Feeding or Eating Disorders (OSFED) are complex and require specialized, comprehensive treatment. There is no single approach that works for everyone; instead, individualized plans that address the person’s unique needs should be used to provide the best possible outcomes. Treatment may include psychotherapy, medications, nutrition counseling, medical monitoring, and other supportive services. 

  • Psychotherapy is the foundation of treatment for OSFED and is intended to help an individual gain insight into their behaviors and thought processes related to food and body image.  
  • Several types of psychotherapy can be used, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), family therapy, and interpersonal therapy. CBT can help individuals identify and replace unhealthy behaviors with healthier ones, while family and interpersonal therapies focus on creating a supportive environment and addressing relationship dynamics. 
  • Medications may also be recommended in some cases. These may include antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications. It is important to note that these medications are not a cure-all and must be used in conjunction with psychotherapy. 
  • Nutrition counseling is also an important part of treatment for OSFED. A registered dietitian can provide guidance on how to make healthy dietary choices and develop balanced eating habits. They can also help individuals learn how to better manage food cravings, overeating, or binge-eating. 
  • Finally, medical monitoring is essential for OSFED treatment. Regular visits with your doctor or a healthcare professional can help ensure your physical health is monitored and any medical issues are addressed. 

Treatment for OSFED is critical for a successful recovery and can involve many different components. Working with a team of experienced professionals is the best way to ensure your individual needs are met to get you on the path to recovery.