What are the differences between anorexia and bulimia

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health of adolescents

Perceiving the body as it is not and wanting to change it is very common among young people. However, some develop certain counterproductive eating disorders that can lead to significant health problems. For example, if you perceive that a teenager around you is obsessed with her body and food, you should be alert since he could suffer from an eating disorder.

Is it anorexia, or is it bulimia?

Although both are eating disorders, one difference between anorexia and bulimia is how the affected person behaves around food. Sometimes, the patient suffers from both conditions, either successively or alternately. On the one hand, anorexia is characterised by a fear of gaining weight and the sensation of looking and feeling fat, so the person stops eating. On the other hand, bulimia not only involves the component of the fear of being overweight or gaining weight, but also the bulimic suffers from a feeling of lack of control over food. Consequently, he overeats, and since he feels guilty, he immediately causes himself to vomit.

Symptoms of anorexia

The symptoms of anorexia follow a pattern that can become obvious and easy to spot if one is attentive. Many times, they are interpreted as warning signs for nearby people. Excessive weight loss in a short period stands out among the symptoms that can sound the alarm.

On the other hand, they are obsessed with their weight; anorexics often exercise excessively, weigh themselves daily, are obsessed with being fat and therefore try to skip meals. In fact, in many cases, anorexics have strategies to get rid of the food on the plate: hiding it in napkins or other places to throw it away later, spreading it to give the feeling that it has been eaten, etc.

Likewise, anorexia is an eating disorder that affects the mood of people who suffer from it; among others, it causes a substantial drop in self-esteem. 

Bulimia symptoms

The difference between anorexia and bulimia is also manifested in their symptoms. Although in both cases, a person can be seen constantly worried about his weight and maintaining his figure, the one who suffers from bulimia cannot control his eating behaviour. So that’s what makes you use laxatives and diuretics frequently to expel all the food you’ve eaten as soon as possible or cause you to vomit.

Causes of anorexia and bulimia

Food is a reflection of how one feels as a person. For example, the culture of thinness and perfection can be an element that favours these disorders; however, according to gender rates, one affected boy for every nine girls with anorexia or bulimia.

This eating problem usually begins mainly in adolescence, since young people are in a stage of change. In the process of adulthood, they start to worry about their physical appearance. Hence, they try to follow the canons of beauty set by society, the media, cinema and television, which are nowadays even more emphasised by social networks.

However, the fact that these disorders have a higher incidence among young people does not mean that they do not manifest themselves in adulthood; on the contrary. It is considered one of the main symptoms of work stress. Work stress can cause loss of appetite and even a compulsive desire to eat, which can be associated with problems such as anorexia or bulimia.

Solutions for anorexia and bulimia

Any eating disorder requires medical attention, even more so if it manifests among the youngest. If not appropriately treated, the disorder can lead to serious health problems in the future, both mentally and physically. However, since it is about the health of adolescents, medical protection will never hurt.

Sometimes, these types of disorders are resolved with adequate family support, along with the help of a doctor who can assess the state of health of the young person. But on the other hand, adolescents often need psychological support from specialists to find the origin of the disorder and help them in the process of acceptance and loving themselves as they are.

Lowers the age of onset of anorexia and bulimia to 9 years
Anorexia, bulimia and their physical and mental consequences

Do patients usually suffer from anorexia or bulimia, or eating disorders simultaneously in childhood and adolescence? Navarro points out that they typically happen over time. “It’s not uncommon to see a girl with anorexia who controls what she eats, and eventually she starts to vomit, followed by binge eating before vomiting. Other times, there is interspersed control of binge eating and vomiting from the beginning. If the weight is kept excessively low, we call it purging anorexia, and if not, bulimia nervosa. The ED often does not meet the diagnostic criteria for bulimia or anorexia nervosa, and the condition is considered an unspecified ED”. 

Suffering from an eating disorder at such an early age has consequences for the physical and mental health of the sufferer. The expert explains this: “Physically, there is a hormonal tidal wave, and this disorder frequently causes the loss of menstruation (amenorrhea) and a delay in development. Psychologically, it supposes a fracture in the development of social relationships, of the skills to get along with others, an interruption of the educational process, a family crisis and a stigma in the biography of the person who presents these disorders”.