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Difference between Bulimia and Anorexia | Bulimia vs. Anorexia

Difference between Bulimia and Anorexia | Bulimia vs. Anorexia

Bulimia vs. Anorexia

Difference between Bulimia and Anorexia: – Everyone needs food to survive. But for some people, food can become an overwhelming and destructive force that can completely dominate their thoughts, feelings and actions. People can safely say that they are eating disorders when the whole life of the affected person revolves around the food and it takes extreme measures to control what you eat.

Difference between Bulimia and Anorexia

Anorexia and bulimia are two common eating disorders that mostly affect women, but what is the difference between bulimia and anorexia?

Anorexia is a disease that occurs mainly in adolescents, although more and more children suffer from it as well. People with anorexia are obsessed with being thin and they are terrified of gaining weight. As a result, they can literally starve themselves.

In addition, these people avoid foods high in calories, and all this is accompanied by an obsession with exercise; until they become extremely thin and become well below normal weight for their age and height.

Anorexia can cause many serious health problems. Usually women stop menstruating. In addition, dry skin and thinning hair on the head are common, although hair can continue to grow on other parts of the body.

Other complications include difficulty sleeping and concentrating, constipation, depression, often also a feeling of cold, predisposition to become ill frequently, bone fragility (osteoporosis), and muscle weakness. If severe anorexia is not treated, the person may even die.

Recognizing an eating disorder quickly is vital to recovery. A person with an eating disorder can be helped much more easily if the problem is identified and treated on time. The first port of call is usually the family doctor, who can direct the person to a counselor, psychiatrist or psychologist who is trained in the treatment of people with eating disorders.

For most people with anorexia, the weight loss they reach is not too severe and does not require treatment in the hospital. However, for treatment to be successful, these people have to want to change and accept the professional help and support of family and friends.

The first step in treatment is to bring the person back to (or close to) an acceptable weight. This means, make sure the person has regular meals with the family and eats enough calories to gain weight.

Bulimia usually affects women in the early to mid-twenties. People with bulimia also are terrified of gaining weight, but they can usually stay within normal weight. This is because they eat large amounts of fattening food (this is called ‘binge’), then get rid of that food by vomiting or taking laxatives.

Bulimia may be less remarkable than anorexia, because patients often maintain a constant weight. However, continuous vomiting and the constant use of laxatives, causes other health problems; which include swelling of the face and fingers, muscle weakness, stomach pains, long-term constipation and tooth decay; this last problem is because over time, the acid from the stomach that is expelled by vomiting dissolves the enamel of the teeth.

With bulimia, the priority is to re-establish the persistent plan to eat all three meals a day at the same old hours (in case the person eats six meals instead of three, it is important that they also make these meals at specific times). Also, keeping a diary of eating habits, learning about healthy eating and reasonable weight management can be very helpful in dealing with these cases.

Why do people suffer from these disorders?

It is not known exactly what causes anorexia and bulimia. Many explanations have been suggested, although the exact reasons may be different for each person. A fear of not being able to cope with difficult situations or feeling overwhelmed easily, are common features common among people with anorexia and bulimia. For example, adolescence is full of big changes – both physical and emotional – and some teens may feel confused or insecure. Refusing to eat can be a way to establish some kind of control in their lives.

Other people can turn to food to block disturbing feelings. People with bulimia often are very insecure about themselves, lack confidence in their abilities and tend to suffer from depression. Binge eating can be a way to deal with these unhappy feelings.

On the other hand, “being thin is beautiful”. Today’s image or stereotypes can be a contributing factor. The ideal of becoming models, promoted by the media, can put pressure on women of all ages to follow a diet and achieve weight loss, sometimes in excess.

Other triggers of eating disorders can be some traumas and the experience of certain disturbing events, also going through certain difficult situations such as divorce and complicated or abusive family relationships.


Medications, such as antidepressants and tranquilizers, may be prescribed in the short term to help people who go through some very distressing time. But it is important to be sure to ask the doctor about the possible side effects of these medicines.

For many people, therapy with a professional and trusted counselor or therapist is helpful; as it provides a “safe” way to talk about issues that may be disturbing them and that could be the reason for their eating disorders.

Self-help groups can be beneficial as well. It is often comforting to talk to others who have gone through the same thing and who offer understanding and acceptance without fear or guilt.

It can be annoying to witness how loved ones put their health and their lives in danger. As family members or as friends, it is natural to want to help; but unwanted pressure and criticism towards the person with these problems, usually make things worse.

A person who wishes to help, collaborates more accepting the behavior of the sick person, rather than constantly face it. Unless it is a life-threatening situation, it is best to try to let the person make their own decisions and to know that they have the love and constant support of their relatives.

Once the person recognizes the problem, it is important that others offer their help in practical matters; such as seeking medical care, self-help groups, and other resources that may be needed to battle these disorders.

These types of disorders can become a long and difficult process. Patients may need psychotherapy for months or years and relapses can occur in times of stress.

Approximately 50% of people with anorexia, who are treated in the hospital; they continue to have symptoms for many years. An eating disorder is difficult to overcome, but with the commitment, patience and support of the people close to you, you can achieve success.

It is usually very difficult for people with eating disorders to improve on their own. It is important that they find help and support.

Self-help groups

Self-help groups provide a space for sharing feelings with others who have similar experiences. There are associations dealing with these problems related to food, and they form groups in several countries for people with eating disorders and their relatives.

Self-help books can also offer more than one idea about this disease, plus they offer step-by-step guidance to help the person on the road to recovery.

Going to see a GP may be a good start. It is important to have the correct diagnosis. A general practitioner may refer skilled professionals, such as psychiatrists, psychologists, dietitians, nutritionists, and counselors – it may not be possible to access this support without seeing a physician. If it is difficult to see a doctor, it is best for the person to talk to a nurse or someone at the school or university with whom he or she has confidence.

Key Differences between Anorexia and Bulimia

  • People with anorexia always avoid eating for fear of getting fat, while people with bulimia are given “binges” of food that they then seek to expel, either through vomiting or using laxatives.
  • Anorexia is usually accompanied by psychosis, since the person can become a totally distorted image of itself; in the case of bulimia, the person is very afraid to gain weight, but usually maintains a constant weight.
  • Anorexia is more serious than bulimia.
  • Anorexia usually occurs in adolescence, while bulimia usually appears when the person is about 20 years old.

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