Eating Disorders


This subject guide is not a substitute for expert professional care. If you have or suspect you may have an eating disorder, please consult your healthcare provider.  Information contained in this subject guide is intended as an educational resource only and should not be used for diagnosing or treating an eating disorder.

If you need more immediate support, please call 911 or:

  • 988 (Suicide and Crisis Lifeline)
  • 1-866-662-1235 (9:00 am – 7:00 pm, EST Monday-Friday) National Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness Helpline 
  • 1-800-273-8255 The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 
  • Text the Crisis Text Line (text HELLO to 741741)


What are eating disorders?

Eating disorders are serious health conditions that affect both your physical and mental health. These conditions include problems in how you think about food, eating, weight and shape, and in your eating behaviors. These symptoms can affect your health, your emotions and your ability to function in important areas of life.

If not treated effectively, eating disorders can become long-term problems and, in some cases, can cause death. The most common eating disorders are anorexia, bulimia and binge-eating disorder.

Most eating disorders involve focusing too much on weight, body shape and food. This can lead to dangerous eating behaviors. These behaviors can seriously affect the ability to get the nutrition your body needs. Eating disorders can harm the heart, digestive system, bones, teeth and mouth. They can lead to other diseases. They're also linked with depression, anxiety, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

With proper treatment, you can return to healthier eating habits and learn healthier ways to think about food and your body. You also may be able to reverse or reduce serious problems caused by the eating disorder.

Your Liaison Librarian

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Karen McMullen
School of Medicine Library
University of South Carolina
Columbia, SC 29208