Leading Differences Between Anorexia and Bulimia

It may seem difficult to comprehend but Individuals diagnosed with eating disorders are suffering from very severe mental illnesses. Often, the seriousness of these disorders is overlooked and the blame is put on the individual for not being able to understand what it means to live a healthy lifestyle. Eating disorders, like other illnesses such as PTSD, OCD or Alzheimer’s, should be taken very seriously and all actions should be taken to help nurture the patient back to health.

One of the biggest misconceptions of eating disorders is that every illness is the same. A person diagnosed with an eating disorder isn’t necessarily skipping meals and eating next to nothing every day. In fact, it can be just the opposite.

Most people classify eating disorders into two categories – bulimia and anorexia. And while many individuals are quick to classify the two illnesses, few people actually know how to identify which is which.

Below you will find some of the major differences between bulimia and anorexia:

1. Anorexic individuals are likely to skip meals and refrain from eating while bulimic individuals are prone to binge eat and purging afterwards.

2. Individuals suffering from anorexia will appear weak, with physical characteristics such as frail bones and sunken-in cheeks while bulimia sufferers are more likely to have swollen cheeks and rotten/extremely unhealthy looking teeth.

3. Studies show that anorexia usually occurs in teenage girls while bulimia tends to affect women in their early to mid-twenties.

4. Individuals with anorexia are likely to appear much smaller than individuals suffering from bulimia. Generally, anorexic women lose the most weight (because they become obsessed with their appearance) while bulimic individuals are less obsessive about their weight but still scared of gaining extra pounds.

5. Anorexia is much more difficult to treat than bulimia. Often, anorexic individuals must undergo hospitalization and intensive suicide watch while being treated for this disease. Countless hours of therapy and counselling are generally needed to restore the individual back to stable health. Therapy and counselling is also recommended for individuals suffering from bulimia, but hospitalization if often rare. Antidepressant medication is sometimes prescribed in order to help the person refrain from binge eating.

If you have anorexia or bulimia or know someone who does, it’s important to seek help. There are many organizations dedicating to helping individuals overcome these illnesses.