Purging Disorder

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People with purging disorder use pills or vomiting to purge the meals that they eat. Vomiting is the most common method, but some women use diuretics, enemas, and/or laxatives. Purging is not currently part of the official list of eating disorders; however, the DSM-5 currently classifies it as an other specified feeding or eating disorder (OSFED).

Although some purging disorder traits are like those of anorexia and bulimia, some are different. Women with purging disorder conditions are obsessed with self-image and weight, so they control what they eat or purge after overeating to meet impractical appearance and weight goals. Because of this behavior, they’re often underweight or overweight and suffer side effects from poor nutrition.

Signs and Symptoms of Purging

Compared to those with anorexia, women with purging disorder have a normal weight, and compared to those with bulimia, they don’t eat too much before they purge. They usually eat normal portions of food and purge even after eating just a small snack, and they might feel full or like they’ve eaten an excessive amount.

In addition, women who have purging disorder have distorted reactions and perceptions of meal portions. They could feel like their eating habits are out of control even though they consume small amounts.

Like bulimia, there are numerous health risks from purging by vomiting. For example, women can develop bone and gastrointestinal issues and abusing laxatives can cause bowel dysfunction. Other risks include:

How We Treat

There aren’t currently enough clinical studies to dictate a specific course of treatment for purging disorder. However, since the condition has similarities with anorexia and bulimia, we use the same methods of care. At Magnolia Creek, we treat with a combination evidence-based therapies including individual therapy and group therapy. We design individualized treatment plans for each client based on their specific needs.


Kate Fisch, LCSW

Kate Fisch is the AVP of Clinical Operations for Odyssey’s Eating Disorder Network. With 17 years of clinical leadership and direct client care experience in the eating disorders field, she has a history of innovation, clinical training, and resource development in a variety of eating disorder treatment settings supporting families, clients, and clinicians.

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