Eating Disorders: Bulimia and Anorexia

Bulimia and anorexia, if left untreated, can lead to many other physical problems and illnesses, even death.


Bulimia is recurrent binge-eating (the rapid, uncontrolled consumption of large amounts of food) and purging (getting rid of the food eaten). Purging may occur with self-induced vomiting, laxatives, fasting, severe diets or vigorous exercise. People with bulimia maintain near-normal weight and appear to be healthy, yet they often realize something is wrong.

Bulimic behavior usually begins in adolescence or early adult life and strikes women in greater numbers than men.

Signs of Bulimia

  • Overconcern with body shape and weight
  • Secrecy
  • Weight changes
  • Abuse of purgatives
  • Abnormal interest in food
  • Depression
  • Severe dieting and exercise
  • Changes in appearance
  • Substance abuse


Anorexia is a self-imposed starvation resulting from a fear of fatness. People with anorexia are preoccupied and dissatisfied with their body size and some specific feature of their physical appearance. They constantly believe they (or parts of their body) are fat -- even though they are obviously underweight.

Anorexic behavior usually begins during adolescence. This disorder strikes women in greater numbers than men.

Signs of Anorexia

  • Distorted body image
  • Absence of menstruation
  • Reduction in eating
  • Cavities and gum disease
  • Extensive exercising
  • Extreme sensitivity to cold
  • Social shyness or isolation
  • Growth of body hair
  • Denial of problem
  • Poor self-esteem
  • Hair, nail and skin problems
  • Excessive weight loss
  • Overuse of laxatives and diuretics


If you or someone you know seems to suffer from bulimia or anorexia, call for help.