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Anorexia vs. Bulimia

When one hears the term eating disorder, most Americans’ minds automatically think about anorexia and bulimia. Both of these mental illnesses are devastating to the victims’ bodies, mental health, and self-image, as well as the victims’ loved ones. These people experience drastic changes in weight and appearance. Although they are similar, these illnesses differ in the victims’ motivation, their symptoms, and the ramifications of their behavior on their health.

What motivates people to become victims of these eating disorders varies. Males and females, more commonly females, who have anorexia feel they should stop eating not only to be skinny but also because they want to “disappear.” Anorexia nervosa can stem from the inability to form attachments to others. The victims’ thoughts, feelings, and personalities are lost; their individuality as persons no longer exists. These things will not return until their recovery. Unlike anorexia, bulimia is compulsive binge eating followed by purging through self-induced vomiting or laxatives. It is typically brought on by seeing thin, famous people in magazines and then wanting to be thin also. Bulimics are driven to look “right.” When the victims “binge eat,” they eat mass amounts of food for up to two hours. Then they purge to give themselves a “good feeling.” Both disorders are dangerous to the mind and body.

There can be dire consequences for both bulimia and anorexia. Some of the physical effects of anorexia include permanent heart problems, kidney failure, fatigue, and in some cases death. The vital organs do not receive the nourishment they need to function properly. Anorexics lose weight much more drastically than bulimics, and they refuse to maintain a normal body weight. On the other hand, the physical effects of bulimia are deterioration of the esophagus, dental cavities, and vitamin deficiency. The esophagus is damaged by acids due to the purging a bulimic does to get rid of the food he or she just consumed. Vomiting up to five times a day can also cause the teeth to rot because of the digestive acids. However, unlike anorexics, bulimics can maintain a relatively normal weight. Both eating disorders, however, must be treated before it is too late.

Each eating disorder requires different methods for finding help and for recovering. If an individual who has anorexia is diagnosed early, it can reduce the need for medical attention. This treatment involves seeing a health professional and getting counseling on a regular basis. In most cases, men and women admit themselves to an in-house treatment. This approach is so the doctors can keep a close eye on the patient and make sure she is eating a healthy diet. However, the victim can overcome anorexia only with the help of a mental-health physician, a medical-health professional, or a registered dietician. On the contrary, bulimics have an easier time taking charge of their eating disorder. Behavior therapy is better than hospitalization. It helps bulimics achieve specific goals such as changing their eating patterns. Cognitive therapy is another helpful treatment for bulimia. Cognitive therapists work to help patients replace their old habits with new ways of controlling their eating habits.

In conclusion, anorexia nervosa and bulimia are both self-destructive eating habits, but they must be identified and treated in different ways. Each disease varies in its physical and mental consequences. Eating disorders are battles that are fought all around America. Treating them is a difficult task, but not an impossible one.

Caitlin Miller

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