Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa

2 pages (500 words)
Eating disorders may be caused by many factors such as cultural pressures, psychological issues, family environment, genetic factors, life transitions and perpetuating factors which may include symptoms of starvation and emotional needs. In the cases of bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa, distorted body image or body dysmorphia is mostly the cause of the disorder (Durand et al 2006). If not treated properly, bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa may be fatal.

People with bulimia nervosa is characterized by episodic binge eating and followed by feelings of guilt, depression and self-condemnation (Durand et al 2006).  Often times, people who are suffering form this eating disorder would take measures such as self-induced vomiting, extreme dieting or fasting and excessive exercising to prevent weight gain[1].  In most cases, this disorder would go unnoticed because the sufferer would often hide their condition and would pretend that everything is fine.

Symptoms and signs of bulimia nervosa may be very subtle and difficult to detect. To be able to help somebody with this type of eating disorder, it is important to note the telltale signs of the disease which may include the following: (1) eating large amounts of food and regularly going to the bathroom right after meals and staying there for sometime (2) compulsive exercising (3) evidence of persistent use of laxatives, emetics which is often used to induce vomiting or diuretics which is a form of medication that reduces the amount of fluids in the body (4) evidence of broken blood vessels in the eyes[2] (5) swollen salivary glands (6) dry mouth (7) rashes and pimples (8) cavities and tooth decay[3] (9) small calluses or cuts  on the tops finger joints[4].

On the other hand, anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder wherein the person tries to control weight gain by extreme dieting or binge eating and purging. Unlike in bulimia nervosa where the weight loss may be imperceptible, a person who has anorexia displays major weight loss.[5] Common signs and symptoms of anorexia nervosa includes (1) irregular menstrual cycle (2) refusal to eat together with other people (3) hypersensitivity to cold (4) ritualistic eating habits which may include slow and deliberate movements such as counting the grains or the slices of the food or cutting the food into fine pieces before eating them  (5) the skin especially on the palm of the hand and soles of the fit appears to be yellow for lack of vitamin A, often times the person complains of cold feet and the hands (6) skin dryness (7) hair loss on the scalp and the appearance of very fine body hair called lanuga (8) denial of hunger (9) hoarding of food (10) intense fear of becoming fat which may be manifested the person repeatedly weighing ones self and exercising excessively and (11) complains of stomach distress and bloating after eating[6].

In order to prevent eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, a person should avoid fad dieting[7]. Most eating disorders stem from the fad dieting and peer pressure (Durand et al 2006). The family dynamics could also help a lot in preventing eating disorders. If the family eating habits is healthy, there is lesser likelihood that a member of the family would have eating disorders.  A well balanced environment and a healthy perception of the human body is also a sure way to prevent cases of distorted body image that most of the time causes eating disorders (Durand et al 2006).


  1. Preventing eating disorders. Men Women Health Today Vol. 1 No. 11-3
  2. Durand, Mark, Barlow, David. “Essentials of Abnormal Psychology Fourth Ed.” Thomson Wadsworth, CA 2006
  3. What is Anorexia Nervosa ehealthmd retrieved March 14, 2006
  4. What is Bulimia Nervosa ehealthmd retrieved March 15, 2007

[1] See What is Anorexia Nervosa ehealthmd retrieved March 15, 2007

[2] Repeated vomiting may cause the blood vessels of the eyes to break

[3] The acid which regurgitated to the mouth during vomiting may damage the teeth

[4] See What is Anorexia Nervosa ehealthmd  retrieved March 14, 2006

[5] Note that women who are diabetic and are dependent on insulin may not really display drastic weight loss.  Often times, the effect of the insulin would make women look as if they have normal weight and even overweight at times. However, they are not immune to the ill effects of anorexia nervosa.

[6] See What is Anorexia Nervosa ehealthmd  retrieved March 14, 2006

[7] See Preventing eating disorders. Men Women Health Today Vol. 1 No. 11-3 retrieved March 14, 2006