Anorexia, Bulimia, and Binge Eating Disorder

Anorexia, Bulimia, and Binge Eating Disorder

Eating disorders are a serious set of illnesses that are often clouded by various myths. These issues can affect anyone regardless of their age, background, or gender; and they affect tens of millions of Americans at some point during their lifetimes. While in the past, specialists have been unable to pin down any singular cause behind eating disorders, they now generally agree that it is actually a blend of sociocultural, genetic, and biological factors that may leave someone more susceptible to developing one. There are several types of eating disorders; among them are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder.

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder which has a few potential hallmarks:

  • The inability to remain a body weight that is healthy for someone’s age and stature
  • Having a distorted body image
  • Weight loss
  • Children that are still growing may not be able to gain the appropriate amount of weight for their age and height

Contrary to popular belief, someone does not have to appear emaciated or underweight to be struggling with anorexia nervosa; and while the illness tends to develop in adolescents, more and more children and older adults are being diagnosed with it, too. People with anorexia nervosa may also binge eat, purge through self-induced vomiting or laxatives, and/or exercise in excess.

Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia nervosa is a type of eating disorder that is characterized by a cycle of binge eating followed by compensatory behaviors. Such behaviors may include using laxatives, enemas, or diuretics, as well as forcing oneself to throw up in an effort to “undo” or “cancel out” the effects of a binge eating session. A binge eating session is characterized by an individual feeling a loss of control while eating a large amount of food.

Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating disorder is actually the most common eating disorder here in the United States. It is also one of the most recent eating disorders to have been recognized by the DSM-5; this is an important step because some insurance companies may not offer coverage for a disorder unless it is recognized by the DSM-5. 

A hallmark of binge eating disorder is an individual having recurring episodes in which they eat large amounts of food while feeling out of control. They may also experience distress, shame, or guilt after a binge, and may eat rapidly until they feel uncomfortable. One important distinction between binge eating disorder and bulimia nervosa is that those suffering from binge eating disorder do not regularly use unhealthy compensatory measures as those suffering from bulimia nervosa do. 

How to Get Help

Eating disorders are severe but treatable illnesses. Those seeking help could begin by contacting an eating disorder hotline. If you are in a time of crisis, you can always text “NEDA” to 741-741 to be put in touch with a properly trained individual. We can also help you at Eating Disorder Recovery Specialists. You can reach us via phone (866-525-2766), email, or by filling out our contact form.

Additionally, Eating Disorder Hope’s website boasts an interactive map that you can use to locate eating disorder treatment in any state, listing up to several resources for each.

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