Differences between anorexia and bulimia nervosa

Differences between anorexia and bulimia nervosa

The anorexia and bulimia nervosa are eating disorder involving alterations in food intake affecting the health of those who suffer. The origin is psychological but can have serious consequences on physical and mental health.


What are the differences between anorexia and bulimia nervosa?

  • In the case of anorexia, the restriction in intake is the dominant behavior throughout its evolution, it is reduced both in quantity of food and in function of the calories in food, avoiding those considered more caloric. In bulimia, however, stages of restriction alternate with other binge-eating.
  • Hyperactivity is a typical symptom of anorexia, in 75% of cases, but not so much of bulimia. For the person with anorexia it is a way of expending calories so try by all means to do a lot of sport and be continuously active, and for bulimics it can be a way to compensate for the calories ingested during binge eating, although this is not very common for this to happen. and if it is done it is not practiced in such an obsessive, intense and constant way as the patient with anorexia.
  • Regarding body weight, the person with anorexia is underweight, less than 20% of what would correspond to their age and height. In the patient with bulimia the weight is normal or is overweight.
  • The bingeing and vomiting are typical of bulimia . At first there is a restrictive diet as a way to lose weight, but there comes a time when it is not possible to maintain it and a binge of those foods that had been prohibited ends up taking place, that is, an excessive intake of food with the feeling that can’t stop. The guilt you feel at thinking about how much you will gain weight leads to your vomiting to make up for the calories ingested during the binge. In some cases of anorexia there are also purgative behaviors such as vomiting, although they are rather due to subjective binges, that is, because the person thinks they have eaten too much even though it is not true.
  • Distortion of body image occurs in both one disorder and the other. That is, they both see her body as larger and reject her body. Achieving thinness is the goal sought by both anorexics and bulimics, although they never manage to look the way they want despite losing weight.
  • The menstrual cycle is disturbed during anorexia due to low weight. As the weight in bulimia is normal, there are no menstruation problems.
  • The personality profile is different in both cases: the person with anorexia is obsessive, rigid, introverted, perfectionist and controlling. Bulimic is outgoing and impulsive, with self-control problems that often also affect other behaviors such as compulsive shopping or alcohol. Obsessive order versus disorder. A patient with anorexia will eat exactly the same thing every week at the same time in the same order without allowing herself anything outside of what she has established herself. A patient with bulimia will eat improvised, whatever is in the fridge, the hours will vary …

Anorexia and bulimia: two sides of the same coin

Both anorexia and bulimia are psychological disorders and as such require psychological treatment to be able to solve them, in addition to nutritional treatment. As we have seen there are differences between them but the core is the same, which is the intense fear of getting fat. This fear leads to eating inappropriate meals, puts health at risk, and there are alterations in important areas of life such as mood, social relationships, family, study or work.


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