Anorexia and Bulimia

Out of the various eating disorders in existence, Anorexia nervosa and Bulimia nervosa are more easily recognized, just by name alone. Though they are easily recognizable by name, recognizing the differences between them and their early warning signs is crucial to the treatment of their presence. 

While both anorexia and bulimia are characterized by disordered eating, fear of gaining weight or being fat, and food rituals and rules, there are significant differences between the two. 

Bulimia nervosa is more common than Anorexia nervosa, with Anorexia being the least common of the eating disorders. Significant weight loss is an early sign of Anorexia. It is common for bodyweight to reach a drastic low, which is typically visibly noticeable. While weight loss can and does occur from Bulimia nervosa, bodyweight does not reach a significant or abnormal low, within that diagnosis. Due to bodyweight usually staying within a normal range, with Bulimia nervosa, the binge-eating/purging behaviors are significant to make the diagnosis. 

Anorexia nervosa is composed of two different subtypes: restricting type and binge-eating/purging type. Within the restriction sub-type, the individual restricts food intake to a minimum or even fully goes into self-starvation, where no food is taken in. There can be confusion distinguishing between Bulimia nervosa and Anorexia nervosa, binge-eating/purging type. While there are similarities between the two, Anorexia nervosa, binge-eating/purging type has significant weight loss, to the point of abnormally low body mass index, that is not present within Bulimia nervosa. 

While eating disorders as a whole are not uncommon, it is still important for us to recognize the early warning signs of their presence. The following are early warning signs to look for in our self or our loved ones if there is suspicion of an eating disorder’s presence. 

Early warning signs of bulimia nervosa:

  • Periods of food restriction with binge eating occurring
  • Eating large amounts of food, quickly, within a short amount of time
  • Excessive exercise
  • Swollen face
  • Teeth erosion/staining
  • Using the bathroom soon after eating
  • Misuse of laxatives or enemas
  • Self-induced vomiting

Early warning signs of anorexia nervosa:

  • Significant weight loss resulting in abnormally low body weight
  • Food restriction or avoidance of food
  • Excessive exercise or over-exercising
  • Faintness or passing out
  • Purging behaviors through misuse of laxatives, enemas, or self-induced vomiting
  • Avoiding favorite foods

Eating disorders are serious and detrimental to both your mental and physical health. If you or someone you know needs help addressing an eating disorder, give Tx Harmony Counseling a call at (832) 352-1600 or contact us here.

Kaitlyn DeLeon, LPC

Kaitlyn DeLeon, LPC

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