In this article:
- The Link Between Anxiety and Eating Disorders
- Types of Eating Disorders
- Anorexia Nervosa
- Bulimia Nervosa
- Binge Eating
Do you know someone, maybe a family member or a friend, who has an eating disorder? If so, you are certainly not alone. Statistics show that one half of all Americans do know someone with some type of eating disorder, and, 95 percent of Americans with eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25. Between 5 percent and 10 percent of individuals with an eating disorder will die within 10 years of developing the illness. 
Millions of people, mostly consisting of young girls, fight some type of eating disorder each year. Some statistics indicate that over 10 million females and another 1 million males struggle each year because of preoccupation with food. 
The Link Between Anxiety and Eating Disorders
Anxiety is a common coexisting condition with eating disorders. Research has shown, however, that anxiety disorders often occur first in individuals with eating disorders and may actually be a warning sign of a higher risk of developing an eating disorder. One study [Kaye, 2004] showed that two-thirds of those with eating disorders had an anxiety disorder at some time in their life. Most of those people had suffered from anxiety prior to developing an eating disorder.
The lead researcher in this study, Walter Kaye, speculated that eating disorders may be one way of managing the anxiety and he encouraged early treatment of anxiety disorders as one way of reducing or preventing eating disorders. 
Different eating disorders, however, are associated with different anxiety disorders.
Anorexia nervosa is most commonly associated with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Social Anxiety Disorder. Bulimia nervosa is more common in those with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Types of Eating Disorders
Eating disorder are grouped into three categories:
- Anorexia nervosa
- Bulimia nervosa
- Eating disorders not otherwise specified - Binge eating
Anorexia nervosa is characterized by an "a relentless pursuit of thinness and unwillingness to maintain a normal or healthy weight, a distortion of body image and intense fear of gaining weight."  Despite being unusually thin, malnourished or consistently hungry, people with anorexia nervosa see themselves as overweight and fat. Weight control becomes an obsession, they may weigh themselves several times per day and eat only extremely small portions of certain foods.
Other physical problems can result as a result of chronic anorexia nervosa:
- Cardiovascular problems, low blood pressure, slowed pulse
- Brittle hair and nails
- Dry or yellowish skin
- Osteoporosis (thinning of the bones)
- Muscle weaknesses
- Lowering of internal body temperature
Treatment for anorexia nervosa initially requires getting the person to a healthy weight. Some medications, such as antidepressants, can sometimes help, especially if there are underlying psychiatric conditions, such as depression or anxiety. In addition, individual and family therapy can be effective. Usually, a combination of medical attention and therapy is used.