Explaining Eating Disorders: Bulimia vs. Anorexia vs. Binge Eating

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Do you feel an urge to consume a lot or very little food? Maybe you’re concerned about the way you look? Or perhaps you took an online test that indicated you are anorexic or bulimic? Well, all these are the signs and symptoms of eating disorders.

What Are Eating Disorders?

Before we proceed further, let’s start by defining eating disorders. Eating disorders are mental health illnesses in which people go through severe disturbances in their regular eating habits. People suffering from this condition generally become pre-occupied with their weight and the food they consume.

Did you know? Eating disorders affect millions of people, mostly between the ages of 12 to 35. There are 3 main types of eating disorders: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder. People suffering from anorexia and bulimia generally have low self-esteem and tend to be perfectionists. They are always critical of themselves and the way they look because they tend to feel ‘fat’ all the time. It even leads to semi-starvation, which can be life-threatening. However, in the early stages of this disorder, the patient usually feels completely fine and denies that they have a problem with food.

Eating Disorders Are Mental Illnesses

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) recognized eating disorders as a Mental Disorder since the 80s. However, the current edition recognizes eight categories of eating disorders as mental illnesses. The tricky part here is that an eating disorder can also be medical. The symptoms associated with the disease have a physical and psychological impact.

In many cases, it has been observed that eating disorders tend to occur with other mental disorders, such as anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic, and drug or alcohol abuse. There are new tests that show that hereditary can play a role in someone developing eating disorders. However, with proper mental counseling, you can prevent this disorder from manifesting, and the affected individual can resume leading a normal life.

If someone suffering from this ailment lives alone, it is essential to consider online counseling and receive care from a dietician or psychological counselor. If you are someone who has been going through thoughts and behaviors that might adversely affect your physical or mental health, then don’t avoid or ignore the signs. Try online therapy, because eating disorders are not simple in nature. Moreover, not only do they impact your mental health, but affects your physical health as well.

Symptoms of Eating Disorders

If you or someone you love has been dealing with eating disorder symptoms, then they may be dealing with one of 3 eating disorders.

Here are the signs and symptoms of eating disorders;

Change in Eating Habits

Maybe you or your loved ones has avoided attending social gatherings because of the food served there. Or you make excuses and try to eat alone without any company. If so, this might be one of the signs of eating disorder.

Immaculate Planning on Food Consumption

Have you started calorie counting every item of food you consume? Maybe you have begun collecting recipes if you have had no prior interest in cooking? Perhaps you are always serving food to others but not eating any of it yourself? Or, if your food planning doesn’t go as planned, do you experience negative emotions? These are all symptoms of eating disorders

Emotions Regarding Food

Has food become your coping mechanism? Or do you feel guilty right after eating? Perhaps you have the habit of rating your day according to how ‘good’ or ‘bad’ you ate. If yes, this might be another sign you are suffering from one of the types of eating disorder

Combination of Multiple Common Symptoms

Having a set calorie intake (which is too low), purging, diet pills, laxatives, binge eating, emotional eating, overeating, using stimulants to have a control on the appetite, excessive water drinking to feel full, too much exercise, or a combination of these symptoms might indicate an eating disorder. 

Notable Physical Changes

Extreme changes in weight and body shape, tiredness or fatigue that does not go away after sleeping, increase or decrease in heart rate and blood pressure, and other lab abnormalities might be an indication of an eating disorder.

Remember, an eating disorder is a type of mental illness. It requires the patient to seek counseling or psychotherapy. If you think you or your loved one is suffering from the eating disorder symptoms mentioned above, then reach out for help. With proper treatment and therapy, this disorder is curable, and the patient will soon be on the road to recovery.

Types of Eating Disorders

Now that you are familiar with the various symptoms of eating disorders, let’s take a look at the most common types of eating disorders. Knowing more about them can help you understand the condition better.

There are 3 types of eating disorder:

Anorexia Nervosa

When the patient weighs at least 15% less than their ideal weight, it can be because of anorexia nervosa. Some of the main symptoms of this disorder include:

  • Eating very little
  • Fear of being ‘fat’ or overweight
  • Having issues with body image
  • Denial of low body weight

People going through this disorder usually weigh very little because they refuse to eat enough and exercise more than required. They might indulge in purging or making use of laxatives to help lose weight. If not treated in time, anorexia can cause:

  • Stoppage of menstrual periods
  • Thinning of bones
  • Hair and nails becoming brittle
  • Dry skin
  • Anemia
  • Severe constipation
  • Low blood pressure
  • Fall in body temperature
  • Lethargy
  • Depression

Bulimia Nervosa

Individuals with this disorder can either be a little underweight, or might maintain normal body weight, or can also be overweight or obese. Unlike anorexia, patients who have bulimia tend to binge eat frequently and consume astonishing amounts of food in a small time-frame. They sometimes gulp down the food without even tasting it. They stop binge eating only when interrupted or when they fall asleep. Post binge-eating, they usually suffer from stomach pains and the fear of gaining weight. It is one of the common reasons why they forcefully throw up or use laxatives. Most often, if your loved one has bulimia, it is difficult to detect as they hide their eating binge successfully, most of the times.

Some of the main symptoms include:

• Sore throat, which might also be chronically inflamed

• Salivary glands present in the neck and below the jaw become swollen, and the cheeks and face become puffy

• Tooth enamel fades and begins to decay because of being in constant contact with stomach acids

• Constant vomiting

• Laxative abuse, which can further cause problems in the intestine

• Kidney problems

• Severe dehydration

• In rare cases, it can also lead to cardiac arrhythmias, esophageal tears, and gastric rupture.

Binge Eating Disorder

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As the name suggests, people suffering from binge eating disorder consume large amounts of food in a short period of time, and feel like they are not in control during the binge. In this type of eating disorder, the patient does not try to get rid of the food via unsafe practices like bulimia. However, binge eating can become a chronic condition and cause obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and various cardiovascular disorders.

Symptoms of binge eating disorder include:

• Binge eating secretly at least once a week for at least 3 months

• Eating very fast

• Eating until you feel uncomfortably full

• Overeating even when not hungry

• Eating alone because you are embarrassed about how much you eat

Feeling depressed, disgusted or guilty after eating

Treatment for Eating Disorders

In eating disorders, emotional and physical health are correlated. If you think you or your loved one is going through any of the symptoms mentioned in this self-care blog, seeking help is always the best option. Early treatment means faster treatment and recovery without any complications.

If you are unsure about therapy, you can always try talking to an online counselor and decide to move forward after that. Today we live in a tech-savvy world where we can Google online counseling near me to discover the best eating disorder therapists who provides online counseling and therapy services. The advantage of opting for online therapy is that you can easily talk to the therapist without any fear of judgment. Sitting behind a screen is sometimes better than physical presence.

Treatment plans for eating disorders include psychotherapy, medical care, medication, and nutritional counseling. Mainly, the treatments focus on providing adequate nutrition to the body, bringing the weight back to normal, reducing obsessive exercising, binge-purge is stopped, and healthy practices are induced. The counselors in Ontario help ease the depression and anxiety from which you are suffering. If you think you are experiencing these symptoms or even thinking about it, don’t ignore them. Opt for an online counseling session, and take the road to recovery. All you need to do is take the first step towards getting better. If you don’t know whom to consult, search counseling near me, and choose someone to help you heal.

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