Eating Disorders: Get to know the difference between Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa
What is Anorexia Nervosa?
Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by an abnormally low body weight, an intense fear of gaining weight and a distorted perception of weight. People with anorexia place a high value on controlling their weight and shape, using extreme efforts that tend to significantly interfere with their lives.
To prevent weight gain or to continue losing weight, people with anorexia usually severely restrict the amount of food they eat. They may control calorie intake by vomiting after eating or by misusing laxatives, diet aids, diuretics or enemas. They may also try to lose weight by exercising excessively. No matter how much weight is lost, the person continues to fear weight gain.
Anorexia isn’t really about food. It’s an extremely unhealthy and sometimes life-threatening way to try to cope with emotional problems.
Anorexia, like other eating disorders, can take over your life and can be very difficult to overcome. But with treatment, you can gain a better sense of which you are, return to healthier eating habits and reverse some of anorexia’s serious complications.
What is Bulimia Nervosa?
Bulimia nervosa is a serious potentially life-threatening eating disorder. People with bulimia may secretly binge eating large amounts of food with a loss of control over the eating and then purge, trying to get rid of the extra calories in an unhealthy way.
In order to, get rid of calories and prevent weight gain, people with bulimia may use different methods. For example, you may regularly self-induce vomiting or misuse laxatives, weight-loss supplements, diuretics or enemas after bingeing. Or you may use other ways to rid yourself of calories and prevent weight gain, such as fasting, strict dieting or excessive exercise.
If you have bulimia, you’re probably preoccupied with your weight and body shape. You may judge yourself severely and harshly for your self-perceived flaws. But effective treatment can help you feel better about yourself, adopt healthier eating patterns and reverse serious complications.
What causes an eating disorder like these?
It isn’t clear what causes anorexia or bulimia to develop. Many medical experts believe it may be due to a combination of complex biological, psychological, and environmental factors.
- Genetics. You may be more likely to develop an eating disorder if you have a family member who has one. This may be related to genes and traits associated with eating disorders, such as perfectionism. However, more researches are to be performed in this issue.
- Emotional well-being. People who have experienced trauma or have mental health conditions, such as anxiety or depression, may develop an eating disorder. Feelings of stress and low self-esteem which contribute to these behaviors.
- Societal pressures. The current Western ideal of body image, self-worth, and success equated with thinness can perpetuate the desire to achieve this body type. This may be emphasized further by pressure from the media and peers.
How are eating disorders diagnosed?
- Physical Examination
This is the first step in diagnosis. Your doctor will record your weight to determine your body mass index (BMI). They’ll likely look at your past history to see how your weight has fluctuated over time. Your doctor will likely ask about your eating and exercise habits. They may also ask you to complete a mental health questionnaire.
- Lab tests
At this stage, you will likely perform some lab tests. This will indicate other internal reasons behind your body weight. It can also monitor your overall health to make sure that no complications have occurred as a result of a possible eating disorder. If the tests reveal no other medical causes for your symptoms, your doctor will refer you to a therapist. Doctors may also refer you to a nutritionist to help you get your diet back on track.
- Talking with the patient and getting closer
In either case, your therapist may be the one to actually diagnose a specific eating disorder after talking about your relationship with food and weight.
Pharmacological and Non-Pharmacological Management
- Olanzapine may stimulate appetite and encourage eating.
- Antidepressant selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, like fluoxetine and sertraline, can help treat depression and OCD, which could be a side effect of or even cause the eating disorder that includes:
- SSRIs like fluoxetine can help treat underlying depression, anxiety, or OCD, and reduce bingeing-purging cycles.
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors like buspirone can help decrease anxiety and reduce bingeing-purging cycles.
3. Tricyclic antidepressants like Imipramine can help reduce bingeing-purging cycles.
4. Antiemetic medications like Ondansteron can help reduce purging.
Therefore, if severe complications have occurred, your doctor may recommend that you get inpatient treatment instead. Accordingly, this will allow your doctor or another medical professional to monitor your progress. They can also watch for signs of further complications.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) uses a combination of talk therapy and behavioral modification techniques. It may involve addressing past trauma, which could have caused a need for control or low self-esteem. In addition, CBT can also involve questioning your motivations for extreme weight loss.
- Family therapy may be recommended for adolescents and children. As, it aims to improve communication between you and your parents, as well as teach your parents how to best support you in your recovery.
- Group therapy. In these groups, you can talk with others who have experienced eating disorders. This can provide you with a community of people who understand your experience and can offer helpful insight.
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