Eating disorders are diagnosed based on signs, symptoms and eating habits. If your doctor suspects you have an eating disorder, he or she will likely perform physical and psychological exams and request tests to help pinpoint a diagnosis. You may see both a medical doctor and a mental health provider for a diagnosis.

Exams and tests generally include:

  • Physical exam. Your doctor will likely examine you to rule out other medical causes for your eating issues. He or she may also order lab tests.
  • Psychological evaluation. A doctor or mental health provider will likely ask about your thoughts, feelings and eating habits. You may also be asked to complete psychological self-assessment questionnaires.
  • Other studies. Additional tests may be done to check for any complications related to your eating disorder. Evaluation and testing may also be done to determine your nutritional requirements.

Diagnostic criteria

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association, lists criteria for various eating disorders. This manual is used by mental health providers to diagnose mental conditions and by insurance companies to reimburse for treatment.

Each eating disorder has its own set of diagnostic criteria. Your mental health provider will review your signs and symptoms to see if you meet the criteria for a specific eating disorder. Some people may not meet all of the criteria but still have an eating disorder and need professional help to overcome or manage it.

Feb. 12, 2016
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