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Disorders related to anorexia nervosa include bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder.

Bulimia nervosa is most often just called bulimia or is sometimes referred to as “binge-purge eating.” A person with bulimia eats a lot of food within a short amount of time (this is called binging) and then tries to “undo” the binge by getting rid of the food, or purging. Purging is usually done by making oneself throw up or taking laxatives. Some people also take water pills to urinate and/or exercise excessively. Like anorexia nervosa, the person with bulimia has a fear of gaining weight and thinks about food and eating a lot. Binging can also cause feelings of shame and guilt. Bulimia can affect anyone, men or women, young or old, however, 9 out of 10 people with bulimia are women. As with anorexia, bulimia is much more than just a problem with food. A binge can be brought on by stress, anger, sadness, or other painful emotions. People with bulimia are actually trying to gain control to ease their stress and anxiety by purging. It is a complicated illness and there is no one certain cause, but many things factor into it. Men and women, but especially women, are pressured from an early age to have an “ideal” body. And, an ideal body in the United States is equated with being very thin. This “ideal” is not realistic for most women, but images on television and in movies, on magazine covers and advertisements add to the pressure. Bulimia also seems to run in families. Many people with bulimia have a mother or sister who also has the illness. Life changes or stressful events can trigger a binge/purge episode. Having low self-esteem is very common among people with bulimia and people with bulimia has higher rates of depression.

Binge eating disorder is also related to anorexia nervosa. However, instead of not eating, a person with binge eating disorder eats large amounts of food at one time and feel out of control during binges. Binge eating disorder differs from bulimia in that the person does not purge after eating. People with binge eating disorder may also eat quickly, eat until they are uncomfortably full (their stomachs actually hurt) eat when they are not hungry, and eat alone out of embarrassment. They usually feel disgusted, depressed or guilty after overeating. There is no one certain cause for binge eating disorder. Researchers have looked at how the following factors play a role in the disorder:

Coping Skills (studies suggest that people who binge may have trouble handling their emotions.)
Biology (Researchers are looking into how brain chemicals and metabolism affect binge eating disorder.)

Research shows that people who have binge eating disorder are at a higher risk for type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, gallbladder disease and heart disease. In addition, people with binge eating disorder report more trouble sleeping, more problems with stress, and they feel badly about themselves and may miss work or school and avoid social activities.


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