What is anorexia nervosa?
To better understand the differences between anorexia nervosa vs bulimia, let’s define the conditions separately. Let’s start with anorexia nervosa.
Anorexia nervosa (AN) is an eating disorder wherein the patient intentionally restricts their food intake in an extreme drive to become thin. These patients have a distorted view of their body weight, size, or shape. They show relief of anxiety, stress, and negative emotions while developing a sense of accomplishment and control when they decrease their intake of food and increase their output of calories through excessive exercise or purging.
Signs and symptoms of anorexia nervosa
Patients with this condition have an obsession with weight loss and anxiety when it comes to weight gain and they usually have monotonous eating rituals, which may include a reluctance of being seen eating. They may also present with excessive and intense exercise routines. Typically, the psychological profile of patients with anorexia nervosa are perfectionists, hard working, introverted, resistant to change, and highly self critical. Physical manifestations of anorexia may include:
- Lack of energy, feeling tired, cold and weak
- Dizziness or fainting
- Irregular or no menstrual cycles in females
- Constipation due to excessive laxative use
- Hair loss
- Bradycardia (Slow heart rate)
Types of Anorexia
Anorexia nervosa can be divided into 2 subgroups of behavior, both with the primary intention of reducing caloric intake.
Binge-purge subtype. These patients binge eat large amounts of food in a short amount of time and then compensate either by vomiting, exercising, fasting, or using laxatives, similar to what is seen in patients with bulimia.
Restrictive type. These patients severely limit their food intake while compulsively and excessively exercising.