• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

What Is Anorexia? What Is Bulimia? How Are the Two Similare, If They Are, and How Do They Differ?

Extracts from this document...



In this essay similarities and the differences between anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are considered. Similarities in the explanations of the two eating disorders are discussed through psychodynamic, behavioural, genetic and biochemical explanations.

Anorexia nervosa is a complex emotional problem characterized by an obsession with food, weight, and thinness. Victims actually starve themselves, eating fewer calories than their bodies need to function.

According to the current diagnostic manual of the American Psychiatric Association (DSM-IV), a woman is suffering from clinical anorexia, not just dieting or fasting, when her weight has fallen to 15% below the normal range and she has not menstruated for at least three months. Sometimes the diagnosis is made because of drowsiness and lethargy that are affecting her work. Other symptoms are dry skin, brittle nails and hair, lanugo (fine downy hair on the limbs), constipation, anemia, and swollen joints. The level of female hormones in the blood of an anorectic woman falls drastically, and her sexual development may be delayed. Her heart rate and blood pressure can become dangerously low, and loss of potassium in the blood may cause irregular heart rhythms. Over a 10-year period, about 5% of women diagnosed as anorectic die, mainly from infections or cardiac failure.

...read more.


The differences and the similarities in the symptoms of the two eating disorders are plain to see, but what are far more difficult to distinguish between are the explanations and the causes of these two disorders.

Unfortunately because of the way that these two disorders overlap each other most research that has gone into this area, places them both under one umbrella called eating disorders. Most explanations are applied to both making none or very little distinction between them. This to be fair is not for no good reason and without reasonable basis.  T Van Der Ham et al studied variations and differences in the path of illness in a 4-yr follow-up study of 25 anorexic and 24 bulimic teenagers. Participants were evaluated on the Morgan and Russell Outcome Schedule (H. G. Morgan and A. E. Haywood, 1988). 47% of the participants had good, 43% midway, and 10% bad outcome scores after 4 yrs. The groups differed as to the severity and type of eating disorder, but were similar in mental, psychosocial, and psychological symptoms during the sickness. Eight percent of the anorexic participants became bulimic. The author concluded that the 2 illnesses could be considered different symptom patterns of 1 basic eating disorder in which the obsession with food and a distorted body image are the core symptoms.

...read more.


All of the above explanations have highlighted how similar the two disorders are but there is one explanation, which shows that the causes of bulimia may be slightly different to anorexia.  This is the role of Serotonin.  Walsh et al has shown that the neurotransmitter serotonin might be the cause of bulimia.  Low levels of serotonin were found to be associated with binge eating.

Information and previous studies show that in so many ways anorexia and bulimia are very similar but there are a few differences between the symptoms and the causes.


  • www.ce5.com/anorexia.
  • www.findarticles.com
  • van der Ham, T; van Strien, Din C; van Engeland, H (1994).  A four-year prospective follow-up study of 49 eating-disordered adolescents: Differences in course of illness.  Acta-Psychiatrica-Scandinavica. Vol 90(3): 229-235.
  • Andersen, Arnold E; Hay, Andy (1985). Racial and socioeconomic influences in anorexia nervosa and bulimia. International Journal of Eating Disorders, Vol 4(4): 479-487.
  • Diaz Marsa, Marina; Carrasco, Jose Luis; Saiz, Jeronimo, (2000).  A study of temperament and personality in anorexia and bulimia nervosa. Journal of Personality Disorders, Vol 14(4): 352-359.

...read more.

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Height and Weight of Pupils and other Mayfield High School investigations section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Height and Weight of Pupils and other Mayfield High School investigations essays

  1. Is there a link

    However, if we study the scatter diagram further, we can see that this is not all it suggests! While both male and female students who scored high in Maths were more than likely to have scored high in Science, two further statements can also be made: On average, both the

  2. How the mass and height of the pupils differ from each other in different ...

    This large range in the girls is down to an anomalous result. It also shows that the heights of girls are concentrated mainly between 1.46 and 1.6m, whereas the height of the boys is mainly concentrated between 1.5 and 1.6m.

  1. Ecology in biology, we set of for a week at Juniper Hall Field Centre ...

    sampling randomly and also because 2 metres is of a reasonable reachable length not high up. A3- I have chosen to count 20 leaves per sample in order to give me more reliable data and to eventually gain a better average in which 10 minimum is most suitable so I have chosen 20 simply for accuracy.

  2. Liquid chromatography is a technique used to separate components of a mixture to isolate ...

    2.00 40595 89.5 1.14 1 in30 0.0015 -2.82 2.00 40115 88.5 1.04 1in 50 0.0009 -3.05 2.00 37930 83.6 1.03 1in 80 0.00056 -3.25 2.00 40372 89.0 1.14 1 in100 0.00045 -3.35 1.98 40351 89.0 1.14 1 in 500 0.00009 -4.05 2.00 45064 99.4 1.08 1 in 1000 0.000045 -4.35

  1. An eating disorder is a serious disruption of a persons eating habits, it some ...

    Different from anorexia Because people with bulimia often purge after the bingeing they are often of normal weight. However, like people who suffer from anorexia, they may fear gaining weight, have a strong desire to lose weight and feel very dissatisfied with their bodies.

  2. Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa

    Many criticisms can be made from this experiment. For one, the experiment did not seem to take into account the amount of environmental influence which could have affected the results. For example, in more cases and not, it is found that monozygotic twins are treated more similarly than dizygotic twins.

  1. There are several different theories about the causality and development of bulimia

    This process eventually increases and usually leads to binging behaviours and the subsequent development of Bulimia. A further possible biological cause may be differences in metabolic rate. Devlin et al measured the resting metabolic rate of a group of 22 women of normal body weight with bulimia nervosa and in 19 age, sex, and weight-matched control subjects.

  2. Eating disorders.

    There are many other sports where athletes have eating disorders. Some examples are track, swimming, cross-country, youth football and other sports.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work