Health Questions and Answers

Question: Is bulimia nervosa simply a variant of anorexia nervosa?

Answer:

There is serious disagreement on whether bulimia is a subtype of anorexia nervosa or whether it represents a distinct pattern. Most bulimics have an approach-avoidance relationship with food. They want to eat but are terrified of gaining weight past normal. This is quite different from the typical food avoidance of the anorectic. The bulimic patients tends to maintain a weight at or slightly below normal, while the anorectic is defined as maintaining a body weight at least 15% below normal. Patients with bulimia may show emotional instability and impulsiveness, quite different from the rigidly controlled behavior of the typical anorectic. There are some individuals, however, who show characteristics of both, as if a desire for food periodically breaks through the food avoidance of anorexia. Bulimics and anorectics share an obsession with body image and a tendency to see themselves as much fatter than they appear to others. Bulimia nervosa is probably a distinct disorder, although there is clearly a close relationship with anorexia nervosa.

One Response to “Question: Is bulimia nervosa simply a variant of anorexia nervosa?”

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