The most common eating disorders in the world are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. They are serious eating disorders that can cause extreme harm to an individual, including death. Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are two different types of eating disorders, but share many commonalities and differences when it comes to causes, signs and symptoms, and treatment options that are available.
Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that makes people lose more weight than is considered healthy for their height and age. The patient has an intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat even though they are underweight (“What is Anorexia Nervosa?” par. 1). The patient is in denial about the seriousness of their low body weight. People with anorexia nervosa may have also had an anxiety disorder as a child and may also have the desire to be perfect. Anorexia nervosa is found mostly in females, but can also be seen in males as well. According to A.D.A.M Medical Encyclopedia, “anorexia nervosa is seen mainly in white women who are high achievers in school and who have a goal-oriented family or personality” (“Anorexia Nervosa” par. 6). Anorexia nervosa often occurs in the pre-teen and teenage years and is the third most common chronic illness in teenagers (“What is Anorexia Nervosa?” par. 8). About forty percent of people with anorexia nervosa will later develop bulimia nervosa.
As with anorexia nervosa, people with bulimia nervosa often use their eating behaviors and habits as a means of coping with emotional stress and typically have an irrational fear of becoming fat (“What is Bulimia Nervosa?” par. 9). Some people with bulimia nervosa have low self-esteem and see the disorder as a way of enhancing their self-worth. Bulimia nervosa is a serious eating disorder in which the person binge-eats and then feels the need to compensate for the behavior by over-exercising or purging (“What is Bulimia Nervosa?” par. 1). People who are dealing with bulimia nervosa engage in recurring episodes of binge eating where they eat large amounts of high calorie foods in short periods of time. People who binge-eat can consume up to 3,000 calories in one single episode (“What is Bulimia Nervosa?” par.4-5). According to Boston Children’s Hospital, “1.1% to 5% of adolescents and 1.1% to 4.2% of females in the United States are believed to have bulimia nervosa” (“What is Bulimia Nervosa?” par.7). Young women who are exposed to Western media pertaining to slim and beautiful women are more susceptible to develop an eating disorder such as bulimia nervosa (“What is Bulimia Nervosa?” par. 17).
Although the true causes are unknown, both disorders are believed to have biological, sociocultural and psychological connotations that can influence the development of eating disorders. It is believed that eating disorders are caused by a lack of confidence and satisfaction with their self-image, the desire to fit in with the modern-day perception that we all need to obtain the perfect body size and shape. There is also belief that genes and hormones also play a role in the development of eating disorders as well.
It is believed that people with anorexia nervosa tend to be highly intelligent people and have superior scholastic performance, but the two consistent personality traits are perfectionism and obsessionality. Anorexics biggest fear is becoming overweight. They have a distorted body image that they are overweight when they are extremely thin, severely ill, or even near death. The person develops strange eating habits such as refusing to eat in front of other people or in a public place, or preparing a big, elegant meal for others and refusing to eat any of the food that they made. The main goal, for people who are dealing with anorexia nervosa, is to find ways to avoid eating foods and exercise for long periods of time to keep the weight off (“What is Anorexia Nervosa?” par. 23).
Bulimia nervosa is seen in...