Anorexia Vs Bulimia: Two Sides of the Same Nervosa Coin?

Anorexia and Bulimia are equal opportunity eating disorders. There is no certain race, gender, sexual or religious background in which these eating disorders are more predominant. Anorexia and Bulimia are psychological problems that just happen to deal with food. There are some similarities in the two eating disorders, but they are not necessarily two sides of the same nervosa coin.

Anorexia and Bulimia – The Similarities

Both Anorexia and Bulimia have the same underlying cause – low self-esteem. With today’s society putting so much emphasis on what is perceived as the “perfect” body and weight, those people with eating disorders see themselves as imperfect.

However, that is not the only underlying cause. Depression and abuse – emotional, verbal, sexual and physical – are also common factors that contribute to the eating disorders of Anorexia and Bulimia.

It is important to note that depression and abuse are not always a factor but that it is prevalent in many cases. In addition, in both disorders, eating is out of their power and self-control. Both of their focus is on food, although there are different ramifications.

Anorexia and Bulimia – The Differences

The result of Anorexia and Bulimia on a person’s health is very similar, but the steps leading up to the conditions are not. With Anorexia, a person consciously does not eat in order to achieve what they perceive as the “perfect” body When they look in the mirror, they do not see how gaunt and skeletal they appear. Rather, they see themselves as needing to lose “just a few more pounds.” With Bulimia, a person consumes large quantities of food to numb their feelings.

However, shame and guilt creep in and kick off the urge to purge. They purge via vomiting, excessive exercising, and the use of laxatives or diuretics. Anorexia becomes readily visible once a person drops way below a normal weight.

Yet, with Bulimics, they could appear to have a normal body weight or even appear slightly overweight. Unless you caught them in the act of bingeing or purging, you would most likely never guess there were any problems.

Medical issues are yet another area where Anorexia and Bulimia differ. For instance, with the constant bingeing and purging, Bulimics can suffer from decaying teeth and even stomach and esophagus problems, all stemming from the regurgitation of stomach acids.

People who suffer from Anorexia deal with a variety of health issues like the lack of a menstruation cycle and a lower body temperature. In both eating disorders, they do share some of the same medical problems not listed above like malnutrition, electrolyte imbalances and interruption of body eliminations.

Some of these medical issues lead to stroke or heart attack, which is the leading cause of death in people with eating disorders. So while there are some similarities in these two eating disorders, they are also vastly different.

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  • eileen newman

    My husband and I went to visit our 19yr.old daughter,who is married with a 12month old.We hadn’t seen her in a year or so,and were shocked at her weight loss and clearly saw something wrong. Her husband said she did voimit once in awhile and was totally ignorant about anorexia and bulimia,or eating disorders. Later he told her and she came screaming out that she’s trying to gain weight and how dare i accuse her of such a thing.The ignorant husband just said “yeah, she just stressed,that’s all”.There have been many domestic violent episodes,and the baby almost taken away.They also lived in poverty after he was fired from Wal-Mart.She was overly stressed with 2 months rent due and 2months utility bills, and care of baby.(No neglect or abuse there)but when social services came out to check because of so many police reports,she got extremely stressed.Case was unfounded but still offering services she does not want.Has SEVERE insominia over these things.No family around by her choice.(ran away at 17,in juvenille court system since 14).I watched her closely all weekend and she had the classic symptons of anorexia.Pushing food around the plate,not eating anything the whole weekend, taking small bites.She knew I was watching and lashed out.I saw her also eat almost a whole pumking pie in corner of kichen. My husband said at McDonalds she ate a whole hamburger and small fries,didn’t see her use bathroom.She said she had her period but as her mother i know she did not.She also complained of constipation and the next day used the bathroom and said “whew stay out of there for a while”, and i immediately went in and there was no smell of a bowel movement.she also complained of severe back pain and asked me to push it in.I grabbed her around waist and put my hand on her back and sickenly felt her whole spinal cord with the T-bones sticking out of her back. Please help me.She lives in Charlotte,NC and i live 4 hours away in Atlanta GA. My husband is on the same page with me.Her husband verbally abuses her,especially her body. There is depression, as for two years she has been living an isolated life,with no immediate family around, and a suffering life with her husband,but will not leave him. Always has been insecure about her body,very pretty girl too. I don’t know what to do or if its bulimic or anorexic or both.Her legs are the size of my arms.Please help me. I am a Bipolar I patient for 40 years,with a rampant psychiatric genetic family history passed to each generation.Very educated in my disease,have watched closely all my children, 22yr.old just came out with first acute manic episode,however also on drugs,dual diganosis,bipolar I primary, drug and alcohol addiction secondary.But Mary shows no signs of bipolar,but severe emotional insecurities under verbal and physical abuse and she can initiate it at times with a huge personality change, not knowing my own daughter anymore.Please refer me somewhere. She won’t go, I know.Husband so ignorant,will do nothing.Legally she is not mine anymore. This is huge stress on me,although I’ve managed my illness all these years through self education, compliance,maintence treatment, even self-control,knowing it is not just about taking pills.However when stress like this comes on my plate I will, at the very least experience hypomania,which doesn’t help my daughter. Her name is Mary Black. I am Mrs. Eileen Newman. My Phone #.Please give a referral.Please advise how to get her to be diagnosed,husband willing to take to take her but as you know she needs PSYCHAITRIST, but right now NO HEATH INSURANCE, medicaid pending, husband getting unemployement. thank you. This is uncharted territory for me,except being informed through TV,but no one in family has ever had to deal with something like this. PLEASE HELP,REACHING OUT TO SOMETHING I DO NOT KNOW HOW TO DEAL WITH. later told her about what we talked about6,

  • RizzaCarla

    I love your title very much. I’m gonna use it on my course paper, which is coincidentally also about anorexia and bulimia, Anyway, thanks.


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