Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa

Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa





Eating disorders are serious illness that affect every part of a patient’s life. Individuals with eating disorder have a difficult relationship with food, largely stemming from body image issues. For example, an individual who feels that they are too fat will severely restrict their food intake or exercise excessively even though their weight is within healthy levels. They have a distorted view of their body. Body image issues also affect self-esteem and other parts of the individual’s life. Eating disorders are severe mental and physical illnesses that prove fatal if left untreated. These disorders affect individuals of different ages, genders and backgrounds. Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are two of the most common disorders, with several similarities and differences. In examining these eating disorders, major areas of consideration are causes, consequences, diagnostics and treatments.

Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa have certain characteristics in common. The first of these is forcing oneself to vomit after taking food. The individual feels that they have eaten too much, and induce vomiting to get rid of all the food that has been consumed. Both bulimic and anorexic individuals also have a constant fear of gaining weight. They go to extreme lengths to ensure that they do not gain any weight, and lose any weight they think they have added. Third, patients with anorexia and bulimia are preoccupied with their body shape and weight. They notice the smallest change in their body which is often distorted. They see themselves as having gained weight even when they have not. They apply different strategies to help them lose this imagines weight. Bingeing is another common behavior in individuals with both anorexia and bulimia nervosa. Both disorders also result in similar physical effects in patients. These symptoms include extreme weight loss, fatigue, low blood pressure, dehydration, irregular heart rhythms (Gibson et al., 2019), among others.

Anorexia and bulimia nervosa also have some distinct symptoms that set them apart from each other. One marked difference is differences in eating patterns. Bulimic individuals tend to eat large amounts of food during bingeing episodes. This excessive eating usually happens in one sitting, and the person usually feels that they cannot control their eating during these episodes. In contrast, anorexic individuals mainly resort to severe restriction of food and calories. They do this by following a strict diet or fasting. The severe caloric deficit leads to weight loss or prevents weight gain. Bulimic individuals also resort to specific ways of getting rid of perceived excess calories after eating. These include using laxatives, diuretics, laxatives and enemies, all used when not necessary.

Teenagers and young adults are the ones most likely to suffer from eating disorders. Different factors predict who is more likely to suffer from these disorders. These factors are split into social, biological psychological factors. Examples of biological factors include type 1 diabetes, having a close relative with a mental illness and eating disorder, and a dieting history. Psychological factors include body image issues, perfectionism, and history of anxiety disorders. Social factors play a significant role in making people develop eating disorders (Harrington et al., 2019). For example, individuals who have been bullied or experienced childhood trauma are more likely to suffer from eating disorders. Weights stigma is another social factor that may lead someone to develop an eating disorder. The idea that slimmer is better has been popularized through media, and people susceptible to such messages develop eating disorders as they try to keep up with societal ideals.

Eating disorders have severe consequences on one’s mental, physical and emotional wellbeing. Physical symptoms include dizziness, thinning hair, thin appearance, insomnia, low blood count, abdominal pain, among others (Weigel et al., 2019). Eating disorders also affect mental and emotional wellbeing. The individual is continually dissatisfied with their weight and body shape, leading to low self-esteem and low levels of confidence. They feel undesirable and this sends them spiraling further into their disorders. Diagnosing eating disorders at an early stage is critical to prevent progress into later stages. Diagnosis is made by qualified medical practitioners. When parents, siblings and other people around an individual with signs of an eating disorder should approach the subject carefully. Most of the time, these individuals will deny that they have a disorder and go to great lengths to hide it. Diagnosis requires a physical exam from a doctor, as well as assessment by a mental health expert.

These professionals prescribe treatment and support resources for individuals who have been diagnosed with eating disorders. Treatment involves multiple professionals. Physicians treat the physical effects of the eating disorder, while a nutritionist helps the patient come up with a meal plan that is sustainable (Harrington et al., 2015). For young people living with their parents, the parents will be involved to help keep up with the plan. Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses that require the intervention of mental health professionals. Mental health treatment options include family therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and group cognitive behavioral therapy.

Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are serious conditions that require a multi-pronged approach to address. Diagnosing an individual with an eating disorder is quite challenging as they may put a lot of effort into hiding it due to shame and fear of stigma. Eating disorders develop due to different factors, and early treatment is critical to prevent progression to serious levels. Eating disorders affect different parts of a person’s life. They need support from those around them as they get through treatment for the illness.

ReferencesGibson, D., Workman, C., & Mehler, P. S. (2019). Medical complications of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Psychiatric Clinics, 42(2), 263-274.

Harrington, B. C., Jimerson, M., Haxton, C., & Jimerson, D. C. (2015). Initial evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. American family physician, 91(1), 46-52.

Weigel, A., Löwe, B., & Kohlmann, S. (2019). Severity of somatic symptoms in outpatients with anorexia and bulimia nervosa. European Eating Disorders Review, 27(2), 195-204.