What Is The Difference Between Anorexia And Bulimia? States The Expert

Here we are going to discuss two common eating disorders Anorexia and Bulimia with their causes, symptoms and treatment options available.

Charu Sharma
Written by: Charu SharmaPublished at: Sep 17, 2021
What Is The Difference Between Anorexia And Bulimia? States The Expert

We are living in a world where staying fit is being linked to having a certain kind of body shape and weight. Where the actual meaning of fitness is being strong and healthy, people have been starving themselves in the name of diet culture. Although exercising and having an active lifestyle helps you to lead a good and healthy life, too much good can be harmful as well. In a desire to get a size zero figure or building muscles people engage themselves in excessive exercise which has its own downsides. Here we are going to discuss two common eating disorders Anorexia and Bulimia and try to understand what they really are, their causes, symptoms and treatment options available to treat these disorders with Dr. Kamna Chhibber, Head, Department of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences, Fortis Healthcare

What is Anorexia?

Anorexia nervosa or anorexia can simply be understood as an eating disorder with fatal consequences. A person suffering from anorexia consumes a restricted diet due to which a person becomes malnourished and dangerously thin which eventually results in starvation. Not just this but even after consuming such a restricted diet these people consider themselves to be overweight. 

Anorexia is a disorder that makes people so undernourished that in many cases they might require hospitalization and medical care. It usually develops during puberty and majorly women are the ones to get affected by this disorder.

To put it in an even simpler way, a person suffering from anorexia has a very restricted food intake with an intense fear of gaining weight. 

anoroxia

Image Credits- Apollo Hospitals 

This disorder makes a person so obsessed about food and weight that they develop peculiar eating habits. These peculiar eating habits can be something like not eating in front of others, refusing to consume certain kinds of food items, arranging food on the plate in a certain manner, etc. Here’s what Dr. Kamna has to say about this disorder “In anorexia nervosa there is a refusal of an individual to maintain body weight at a certain level that is considered to be appropriate on normal for the individual’s age and height. These people end up getting into a constrict consumption of food and become restricted in their dietary habits. Sometimes these people also end up engaging themselves in excessive exercising in order to lose weight.” 

Also Read: Loss Of Appetite: Causes, Symptoms Risk Factors And Remedies To Stimulate Appetite

Causes of Anorexia 

Although the exact cause of anorexia still remains unknown and certainly hidden from the world. The condition sometimes runs in the family and a person is likely to be affected by the disorder if someone in the family has been affected with the same. 

Apart from this there are various environmental, psychological and social factors that might contribute to the development of this disorder. These people believe that their life would become better if they lose weight. Here are some causes of anorexia as explained by Dr. Kamna

  • Neurotransmitter imbalances
  • Significant biological component associated with it
  • Difficulty related to an individual’s perception of their body
  • Negative experiences in past related to body weight
  • Self esteem and self worth related issues
  • Relationship related challenges
  • Body image

Symptoms of Anorexia 

constipation

Image credits- Cary Gastroentology Association

Also Read: Struggling With Stomach Issues? Make These 4 Ayurvedic Concoctions For Relief

Where starvation is not the only symptom that this eating disorder shows, Anorexia is a diseases that can be detected by the following signs and symptoms-

  • Restricted dietary habit
  • Fear of gaining weight
  • Dehydration
  • Constipation
  • Hair Fall
  • Dizziness
  • Missing on periods
  • Swollen legs or arms

What is Bulimia 

Binge watching your favourite show is still fine but binge eating on your favourite snack can come with some serious consequences. Have you ever thought that after a whole night of binge watching a horror TV series you could just take out all the things from your mind because now you are too scared and unable to sleep? Well some people feel this way for the food they eat.

Bulimia is an eating disorder where a person binge eats and then purges it out by inducing vomiting. 

overating

Image Credits- Dr Albert Toubia 

Also Read: Prevent Overeating While Working From Home By Following These Simple Tips

This eating disorder can be characterized by binging and purging where a person engages himself/herself into overeating and then deliberately vomits

Here’s what Dr. Kamna has to say about this disorder “In bulimia the individual will appear to be very normal in terms of weight, shape and size. Although these people seem to be appropriate in the terms of body shape and weight, what they end up doing is, they have binge episodes where they consume excessive foods and a lot of times this can be followed by purging. There is a disorder in eating patterns where an individual consumes large amounts of food due to overeating. These people have a feeling of shame, guilt  and secrecy about their behaviour and they engage in self induced vomiting or intermittent starvation. 

Causes of Bulimia

Dr. Kamna explains that it is not possible to determine that even after going through the same things which person is going to get affected by anorexia and who will get bulimia. If we would be able to put determinants then we would be able to prevent everything from happening. We don’t know how an individual will respond to a situation. Hence the causes for both the diseases are pretty similar to each other but the outcomes are different. The causes of bulimia can be understood as-

  • Neurotransmitter imbalances
  • Significant biological component associated with it
  • Difficulty related to an individual’s perception of their body
  • Negative experiences in past related to body weight
  • Self esteem and self worth related issues
  • Relationship related challenges
  • Body image

Symptoms of Bulimia

bulimia

Image Credits- MedIndia

As now you know all about bulimia and its causes and the ways in which it is different from Anorexia, let us take a quick look at some of the symptoms of this eating disorder. 

  • Normal in terms of weight and body shape
  • Episodes of consuming excessive food
  • Large amount of food consumption
  • Induced Vomiting
  • Intermittent starvation
  • Guilt and secrecy

Treatment options available

As both these disorders are extremely dangerous and can have adverse effects on a person’s health, here are some of the treatment o[tions which can be used to treat them as suggested by Dr. Kamna Chhibber

  • Combination of medication and psychotherapy
  • A lot of psychotherapies are done to help the patient 
  • The specialist works upon a patient's self esteem and self image related issues
  • Psychotherapy is done to manage the patient's behavior. 
  • A combination of therapies such as psychoanalytic therapy and dialectical therapy is performed.  

With inputs from Dr. Kamna Chhibber, Head, Department of Mental Health and Behavioral Sciences, Fortis Healthcare. 

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