Eating disorders (ED) are complex mental illnesses that afflict nearly 5% of young women.
Anorexia nervosa (AN), an illness affecting nearly 1% of young women, has a 5-10% mortality rate, the highest of any psychiatric disorder.
Bulimia nervosa (BN) affects nearly 3% of women.
Only about half of women with AN and/or BN recovered from their ED 5 years after treatment.
Substantial evidence exists that AN emerges in response to biological, psychological, and social factors.
For BN, there is strong evidence supporting psychosocial factors related to peer perceptions and social norms, and biological components related to impulsivity.
Patients with EDs struggle to recover because there are few evidence-based treatments, a limited understanding of the pathophysiology, and even less understanding of how pathology and treatments are related.