Anorexia Nervosa vs. Bulimia Nervosa
Both Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa share several similarities and differences in terms of their diagnoses, side effects and treatments. In the case of psychiatric illnesses like Anorexia and Bulimia, a diagnosis is made based on the patient’s report about the physical and psychological symptoms experienced. Anorexia and Bulimia also elicit dangerous side effects which affect the cardiovascular system, digestive system and skeletal system as well as the mental well-being of a person. These eating disorders are approached with methods of treatment that range from weight restoration to mental rehabilitation.
There are several different and similar medical and psychological assessments used to diagnose Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa. One factor that distinguishes between these two eating disorders is the extent of weight loss of a patient. (Shepphird, 2010, p. 9) Anorexics have a disposition of refusing to maintain a body weight at or above the minimum end of a normal weight range. A person diagnosed with anorexia weighs roughly 85% or less than their ideal body weight based on gender, height and age. (Shepphird, 2010, p. 3-4) With that being said, a person engaged in binge eating or purging who weighs less than 85% of their expected normal weight would meet the criteria of anorexia nervosa, while a normal weight person who engages in similar behavior would be diagnosed with bulimia nervosa. (Shepphird, 2010, p. 9) The term ‘bulimia nervosa’ literally means ox-hunger and requires binge eating, but not necessarily purging to be present. ( Halmi, 1992, p. 97) A person who is diagnosed with bulimia is either at a normal weight or is overweight.
The unique abnormality of both anorexia and bulimia is disturbed eating behavior. Anorexics have the general tendency to deny hunger, avoid eating with others and restrict caloric intake or maintain severe dieting. They also have a list of ‘safe foods’ and ‘fear foods’. Safe foods are usually diet foods with extremely low calories such as green tea and celery sticks, whereas fear foods are foods with higher calories such as bread and cake. Anorexics are also ritualistic about food. Examples of such ritualistic behavior include chewing each bite of food for a certain number of times, measuring food servings, and counting the number of items eaten. (Shepphird, 2010, p. 29-56) People diagnosed with bulimia nervosa suffer from powerful and uncontrollable urges to overeat. They seek to avoid the “fattening” effects of food by inducing vomiting or abusing laxatives or both. Bulimics are also preoccupied with food, have irresistible cravings for food and repeated episodes of overeating. (Mitchell, 1990, p. 6) Bulimic individuals consume a large amount of food, usually far more than would simply be considered as overeating. Binge-eaters consume primarily snack or dessert foods such as doughnuts, ice-cream, bread, candy and carbonated drinks. (Mitchell, 1990, p. 17) Early in the course of the illness, most bulimic individuals self-induce vomiting by stimulating their gag reflex mechanically, using a toothbrush, an eating utensil, or their fingers. Eventually, many learn to vomit by reflex without mechanical stimulation. Some will also ingest a large amount of fluid towards the end of a binge-eating episode to make vomiting easier. (Mitchell, 1990, p. 19)
The common criteria of those diagnosed with anorexia and bulimia include poor self-confidence and emotional stress. These feelings are accompanied by guilt and depression. Both eating disorders are commonly caused by a traumatic experience, abuse, low self-esteem and other similar factors. Anorexics and bulimics cope with their feelings by means of starving or overeating. Other mental disorders associated with the diagnosis for anorexia and bulimia includes depression, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)....
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