Eating Disorders are characterized by prominent disturbances in eating behaviors. Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia are the two Eating Disorders described in this section.
Anorexia Nervosa involves the refusal to maintain a normal body weight, an intense fear of gaining weight, and significant disturbances in perception related to body image. For example, an anorexic patient may see herself as fat when in fact she is of below normal weight. Women with Anorexia Nervosa may stop menstruating as a complication of the disorder. Some patients with Anorexia Nervosa severely restrict the intake of food, whereas other patients will binge on food and then purge the food through self-induced vomiting or misuse laxatives or “water pills” in order to not become overweight.
Bulimia Nervosa involves recurrent episodes of binge eating at least twice a week for three months. Binge eating is defined as eating a significantly larger amount of food than most other people would within a short period of time. The patient feels a lack of control over how much is eaten, or when to stop eating. Patients with Bulimia Nervosa also engage in unhealthy compensatory behaviors such as misuse of laxatives or “water pills,” enemas, engaging in fasting, or compulsive exercise. Unlike Anorexia Nervosa, there are no significant disturbances in perception related to body image.
Binge Eating Disorder is a condition in which the individual has recurring episodes of eating unusually large amounts of food within a short period of time. This behavior is accompanied by several of the following symptoms: eating more rapidly than usual, eating until unpleasantly full, eating when not hungry, feeling disgusted with oneself, and shame associated with eating.