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Essential Facts for Anorexia and Bulimia

written by: ChelseaOliver • edited by: jen2008 • updated: 10/14/2010

Anorexia and bulimia nervosa are highly prevalent disorders in today's society, affecting mainly teenage and young adult aged women. This article discusses the essential facts of the disorders, such as their definitions, relevant statistics, and recommended treatment.

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    Anorexia and Bulimia Nervosa Defined

    The frequency of eating disorders has increased steadily over the years, anorexia and bulimia nervosa, disorders which affect mainly but not exclusively women, are the most common eating disorders in North America. Two very important facts for anorexia and bulimia nervosa are the clinical definitions of these widespread disorders. An individual with anorexia nervosa has an intense, debilitating fear of gaining weight, which results in the refusal to maintain a normal body weight for their height; often, this weight loss is so severe it results in hospitalization or even death. Also, in order to be diagnosed as anorexic, if the sufferer is female she must have missed three consecutive menstrual periods. a condition called amenhorrea.

    Bulimia nervosa is characterized by recurring episodes of binging and purging, wherein the sufferer consumes massive quantities of food prior to engaging in purging behaviors. Purging commonly takes the form of self induced vomiting, but individuals with the disorder will also abuse laxatives as well as compulsively over-exercising to rid themselves of the food they have binged upon.

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    Statistics

    The essential facts concerning anorexia and bulimia nervosa include such things as the age and socioeconomic statuses of the individuals most often affected. When it comes to anorexia nervosa, it is important to note that the overwhelming majority of those diagnosed are female, and the bulk of these women experience the onset of the disorder in the age range of late teenage to early adult. These women have also been found to be predominantly Caucasian adolescent girls, a demographic where according to research one in roughly every two hundred individuals is afflicted.

    The statistics for bulimia nervosa are relatively similar to those of anorexia nervosa. Bulimia nervosa tends to develop in the later years of adolescence and early adulthood; however, it is also possible for an individual to begin their struggle with the disorder in early adolescence or the years beyond early adulthood. As with anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa affects mostly women, the majority of whom are of middle or upper class social standing and Caucasian. Research has found that roughly one to four percent of women endure the ordeal that is bulimia nervosa in their lifetimes, while the statistic shifts slightly to zero point five to four percent for anorexia nervosa.

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    Helpful Treatment Advice

    The course of the eating disorders, anorexia and bulimia nervosa tend to be quite different, as individuals with the former generally do not seek help on their own, and individuals with the latter are more likely to recognize that they do in fact have a problem that they need help to overcome. Therapy is very important to recovery from anorexia nervosa, and it is very helpful to focus on things such as nutrition, body image, weight management, and attempting to discover the root of the disorder and where the intense need for control stems from. Medication is generally only used in regards to comorbid issues such as obsessive compulsive disorder and depression.

    Therapy is also a very important aspect of treatment for bulimia nervosa; however, antidepressants are often prescribed in order to help ease the episodes of binge eating and intense food cravings. When it comes to both disorders, the majority of sufferers who seek treatment early on will suffer no long term consequences and fully recover.

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    References

    http://bodyandhealth.canada.com/condition_info_details.asp?disease_id=48

    http://www.womenshealth.gov/faq/anorexia-nervosa.cfm