PSY-470 Topic 4 DQ 2 Compare and contrast bulimia and anorexia symptoms and treatments. How are they the same and how are they different? Use in-text citations in complete 6th edition APA format.
Bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa are both eating disorders characterized by distorted body image and an intense fear of gaining weight. Although they share similarities, such as being psychiatric disorders with potentially severe physical and psychological consequences, they differ in terms of symptom presentation and treatment approaches. This discussion will compare and contrast the symptoms and treatments of bulimia and anorexia to highlight their similarities and differences.
Bulimia nervosa is primarily characterized by recurrent episodes of binge eating followed by compensatory behaviors such as self-induced vomiting, excessive exercise, or the use of laxatives or diuretics. Individuals with bulimia often have a normal body weight or may fluctuate within the normal weight range. They exhibit a lack of control during binge episodes, consuming large amounts of food in a discrete period and experiencing feelings of guilt, shame, and disgust afterwards (American Psychiatric Association [APA], 2013). Additionally, they typically engage in strict dietary restraint, experience fluctuations in weight, and often engage in self-critical thoughts related to body shape and weight (APA, 2013).
On the other hand, anorexia nervosa is defined by a significantly low body weight, an intense fear of gaining weight, and a distorted body image. Individuals with anorexia often restrict their food intake and exhibit an extreme preoccupation with weight and body shape. They may engage in excessive exercise, adopt restrictive eating behaviors, or misuse diet pills to achieve weight loss (APA, 2013). Individuals with anorexia nervosa have a distorted perception of their own body weight and shape, often seeing themselves as overweight despite being underweight (APA, 2013).
Both disorders share commonalities in terms of symptomatology. For instance, individuals with bulimia and anorexia may engage in excessive exercise as a way to control their weight or compensate for the calories consumed during binge episodes. Additionally, both disorders are associated with body image dissatisfaction and a preoccupation with food and weight-related thoughts (Herzog, Keller, & Sacks, 2015). In both bulimia and anorexia, individuals may experience significant physical health consequences such as electrolyte imbalances, organ damage, amenorrhea, and compromised bone density (APA, 2013).
Despite these similarities, there are key differences between bulimia and anorexia when it comes to symptomatology and treatment. For instance, while individuals with bulimia engage in binge eating followed by compensatory behaviors, individuals with anorexia restrict their food intake. This difference in eating behaviors is a core distinction between the disorders.
The approaches to treating bulimia and anorexia also differ. The treatment for bulimia often includes cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and medication, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) (Hay, Bacaltchuk, & Stefano, 2013). CBT focuses on identifying and modifying unhealthy thoughts and behaviors related to body image, eating, and weight, while SSRIs can help address depressive symptoms commonly associated with bulimia (Hay et al., 2013). In contrast, the treatment for anorexia typically involves a multidisciplinary approach, including medical management of physical complications, nutritional rehabilitation, individual therapy, and family-based interventions (Herzog et al., 2015; McIntosh et al., 2016).
Another key difference lies in the long-term outcomes of the disorders. Research suggests that bulimia has a better prognosis compared to anorexia, with a higher likelihood of recovery and a lower mortality rate (McIntosh et al., 2016). Alternatively, anorexia has a chronic course, and individuals with severe anorexia may require long-term treatment and support. The severity of anorexia and the extent of medical complications may impact the prognosis, making it more challenging to treat (Herzog et al., 2015).
In conclusion, although bulimia and anorexia are both eating disorders characterized by distorted body image and an intense fear of gaining weight, they differ in symptom presentation and treatment approaches. While bulimia is marked by recurrent binge eating and compensatory behaviors, anorexia is defined by food restriction and significantly low body weight. The treatment for bulimia often involves CBT and medication, while anorexia necessitates a multidisciplinary approach. Furthermore, the prognosis for bulimia is generally more favorable, whereas anorexia tends to have a chronic course with higher rates of medical complications. Understanding the similarities and differences between bulimia and anorexia is crucial for accurate diagnosis and effective treatment planning.