If you have this disorder, you see yourself as overweight even though you are dangerously thin. The process of eating becomes an obsession. You develop unusual eating habits, such as avoiding food and meals, picking out a few foods and eating these in small quantities, or carefully weighing and portioning food. You may repeatedly check your body weight and engage in other techniques to control your weight, such as intense and compulsive exercise or purging. Purging can be done by vomiting or by abusing laxatives, enemas, and diuretics. Girls with anorexia often experience a delayed onset of their first menstrual period. Your height may also be lower than it should.
Symptoms of anorexia nervosa may include:
The course and outcome of anorexia nervosa varies among people. Some recover fully after a single episode, some have a pattern of weight gain and relapse, and others have the illness over many years.
In bulimia, binge-eating episodes are followed by purging or exercise. Therefore, you may weigh within the normal range for your age and height. However, like individuals with anorexia, you may fear gaining weight, desire to lose weight, and feel intensely dissatisfied with your body. You may binge and purge in secrecy, feeling disgusted and ashamed when you binge, yet relieved after you purge.
Behavioral symptoms include:
Physical symptoms include:
Bulimia can lead to other problems including:
Symptoms of these complications include:
Binge Eating Disorder
If you have binge eating disorder, you experience frequent episodes of out-of-control eating along with the same binge eating symptoms as those with bulimia. The main difference is that you do not purge. Therefore, you may be overweight for your age and height. Feelings of self-disgust and shame associated with this illness can lead to recurrent binging.
Anorexia nervosa. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114614/Anorexia-nervosa. Updated November 19, 2015. Accessed October 6, 2016.
Bulimia nervosa. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114924/Bulimia-nervosa. Updated June 8, 2016. Accessed October 6, 2016.
Eating disorders. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/eating-disorders/index.shtml. Updated February 2016. Accessed May 18, 2016.
General information. National Eating Disorders Association website. Available at: http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/general-information. Accessed May 18, 2016.
Last reviewed May 2016 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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