Eating disorders are commonly misunderstood. Many individuals are unsure of what it means to have an eating disorder. Unfortunately, many are inclined to believe that these disorders are actually developed as the result of a choice. They feel that individuals who suffer from these issues choose to do so. People often consider eating disorders to be less serious than other conditions, believing that those who suffer from these disorders can easily end the problem. There are also many people who are unsure about the differences between various types of eating disorders. Often, people tend to lump bulimia and anorexia together in one category. While they are both eating disorders, there are vast differences between the two. They can occur separately or together, the case is different for each person. Either way, if a person has one or the other or both, the consequences can be severe and treatment is necessary.
Eating Disorders are Mental Health Issues
It’s important to realize that eating disorders are actually mental health disorders. People do not choose to develop these issues. They don’t plan to develop them. There are many underlying causes which can contribute to the development of an eating disorder. In some cases, women develop eating disorders as a result of trauma. In other situations, people develop these issues because they are suffering from the effects of trauma. Many individuals have coexisting issues and are dealing with an eating disorder and an addiction problem. In any case and regardless of the underlying causes, it is absolutely critical that those who are living with an eating disorder get professional treatment as soon as possible. Treatment can help people to establish a healthier way of life. If you know someone who is dealing with a disorder of this kind, it may be helpful for you to understand what they are experiencing.
Information About Eating Disorders
Contrary to what many people think about eating disorders, these medical illnesses are actually the results of mental disturbances. There is a common misconception regarding eating disorders. People feel that these illnesses are forms of extreme dieting. They feel that a person who is dealing with an eating disorder has an infatuation with her body weight. When people think about eating disorders, they usually picture an underweight woman who eats very little. But, there are many different kinds of eating disorders and not all of them are characterized by weight loss. When a person is suffering from a disorder of this kind, it can be hard to categorize her symptoms. Some people even deal with symptoms that can fall into multiple categories of eating disorders. There are many different types of eating disorders. But two of the main kinds are bulimia and anorexia. Although there are more, bulimia and anorexia are two of the most commonly recognized types of eating disorders.
A Brief Overview of Bulimia
Bulimia is an eating disorder that causes a person to ingest large amounts of food followed by induced vomiting. In a sense, a component of this disease is binge eating because of taking in large amounts of food at once. This disorder can cause people to become very ill and could even lead to death if the individual doesn’t get help. It is estimated that up to 4% of women with it could pass away because of disorder-related complications. Others may face serious medical issues such as bone disease, heart complications, problems with digestion, and even infertility.
Bulimia often happens along with mood disorders such as anxiety, depression, and mood disorders. Many people who have Bulimia also participate in self-harm like cutting or burning, and it is said that 7/10 people with it also have a form of depression. Bulimia can also coincide with addiction problems, resulting in a person who is creating an extremely negative and damaging environment for their body and mind.
A Brief Overview of Anorexia
Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that causes a person to severely restrict the amount of food they take into their body. Firstly, it’s important to mention that anorexia is often characterized by extreme weight loss because of its restrictive nature. People who are suffering from anorexia often feel that they must limit the amount of food they eat. They struggle to have positive opinions about eating in general. In some cases, people may weigh themselves frequently. Some individuals even force themselves to regurgitate or take laxatives in order to lose weight. Others may exercise excessively in an effort to keep their weight down. Sadly, this often results in serious illness and even death. Anorexia also has the highest fatality rate of any mental illness including anxiety and depression.
Anorexia has extremely detrimental effects on the body. It can cause hair loss, body aches and pain, irregular heartbeat, kidney failure, infertility, and cardiac arrest. Sometimes, people will grow a soft coat of hair over their entire body. This is the body’s way of trying to protect itself. This eating disorder is extremely widespread. It is estimated that 10 million women have some form of it. Of that number, only one in ten usually seeks help. It’s important to put an end to the stigma so that people start reaching out and getting the help they need.
Understanding the Differences Between Eating Disorders
Now that we’ve briefly defined bulimia and anorexia, let’s get a little more information about the main differences between the two. Many people think of anorexia when they hear the term “eating disorder”. But, as we mentioned, bulimia actually affects quite a lot of people. Still, many people wonder about the main differences between these two mental health disorders. Perhaps you’re wondering about this matter. Well, one of the main differences between bulimia and anorexia nervosa is the amount of food an individual eats. When a person is suffering from bulimia, she usually goes through periods of binge eating. To binge eat means to overeat and many people who have bulimia tend to experience these periods for a few hours. After a binge eating episode, individuals go through a purge (vomit or use a laxative). But, many individuals who have this condition do not purge and begin to gain weight.
Those who are suffering from anorexia do not eat excessive amounts of food. Instead, they limit the amount of food they eat. Although many of the people who have bulimia purge after binge eating, many individuals maintain a somewhat normal bodyweight while anorexia often results in extreme weight loss. Both disorders, however, cause major health issues. In many cases, people suffer from the negative effects of frequent vomiting, including esophagus complications and tooth decay. These eating disorders have also been known to cause fatigue and a lack of energy. The body will begin to lack the vitamins and nutrients it needs in order to function properly, causing it to become more susceptible to illness.
How Do I Find Bulimia or Anorexia Clinics Near Me?
One common question regarding these two eating disorders is, “which is more common, anorexia or bulimia?” The truth is that both eating disorders affect a lot of people. However, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, 1% of women will develop anorexia nervosa while 1.5% will develop bulimia nervosa. Still, the truth remains: eating disorders are impacting people all over the world. Women, men, boys, and girls all throughout our communities are developing these disorders. Sadly, many of them are unsure about where to turn to get help. As a result, they may not get help at all.
Going for too long without getting help for bulimia and anorexia can lead to a life full of pain and illness – or a life cut short. Both disorders often lead to additional complications, and co-occurrence with addiction happens in many cases. This makes getting past an eating disorder even more difficult. It is extremely difficult to pull out of these kinds of situations by yourself. Many individuals struggle to overcome these issues. Some even hit rock bottom before they realize how bad things have gotten. But, if you have found yourself suffering from an eating disorder, it’s important to get help as soon as possible. An eating disorder center can help you find freedom from this struggle and assist you in beginning a new and healthier way of life.
There still remains a stigma around eating disorders as well as a stereotype of the typical sufferer. But, like any addiction or mental health disorder, it’s critical to realize that speaking up about these issues will make more people pay attention to the issue. Don’t wait any longer to speak out. You can get the help you need and find your way to a better version of yourself. There is hope for you!
**Originally posted on September 21, 2016. Updated on March 13, 2019.