Differences Between Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa (With Table)

Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are some of the most common eating disorders that occur in this modern world. Similar clinical signs, such as a compromised immune system, unnatural body structure, might occur. They are, nevertheless, distinguished by distinct food-related behaviors. Women are disproportionately affected by eating disorders, even though they are neither age nor gender-specific. Neither condition has a specific treatment.

This article focuses on the differences both the disorders have although they might have similar treatments and similar cures too!

Anorexia Nervosa vs Bulimia Nervosa

The difference between anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa is that anorexia nervosa is a disorder when the sufferer is affected by the fear of gaining weight and thus stops eating as a result the body functions and hormones behave abnormally, whereas in bulimia nervosa sufferers go through a cycle of binge eating (eating too much) and purging (eating too little).

Anorexia nervosa is frequently caused by a distorted body image, which can be caused by emotional stress, sadness, or worry. Extreme dieting or weight reduction may be viewed by some as a method to retake control over their lifestyles and social image. People who suffer from anorexia will go to great lengths to shed weight or preserve their thin shape. Anorexia can manifest itself in a variety of emotional, behavioral, and physical symptoms and is usually associated with the patient’s emotional state rather than a physical state.

Bulimia nervosa is also an eating disorder caused by the cycle of binging and purging in a scheduled manner. Indicators of bulimia include missing meals, faking about how many meals they’ve eaten, eating generally high-calorie — items, and engaging in odd eating behaviors such as over-eating and midnight meals. Obesity might be a common after-effect of bulimia nervosa. Bulimia patients stress and obsess about their body weight and form to the point that it interferes with their everyday life.

Comparison Table Between Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa

Parameters of ComparisonAnorexia NervosaBulimia Nervosa
DefinitionAn eating disorder in which sufferers are afraid of gaining weight and reduce eating as a consequence. Young ladies are primarily affected.Because of anxiety, patients go through a cycle of overeating followed by purging.
SymptomsPhysical weakness, degeneration, and organ damage; absence of menstruation; memory loss, feeling dizzy, and other symptoms are common.Physical weakness, degeneration, and organ damage. All symptoms are similar to anorexia but bulimia can result in permanent obesity and depression as well.
Age of OnsetEarly teen yearsLate teen years
Behaviour and Psychological TemperamentPreoccupation with eating, weight, and having a “slim” body image; intense fear of gaining weight; obsessive exercise; sadness and anxiety; low self-esteem; body dysphoric disorderBodily weakness, degeneration, and organ failure; no menstruation; memory loss, faintness, and other symptoms; many people are within the “normal” weight range for their height and age, while some are underweight.
TreatmentIt is possible that you will need to go to the hospital. Treatment options include outpatient and inpatient care. Dietitians, physicians, therapists, and psychiatrists are frequently involved in the therapy process.It’s unlikely that you’ll need to go to the hospital. Treatment options include outpatient and inpatient care. Dietitians, physicians, therapists, and psychiatrists are frequently involved in the therapy process.

What is Anorexia Nervosa?

Anorexia nervosa, or anorexia, is a medical condition and a metabolic disease characterized by severe weight loss and extreme thinness as a result of self-starvation. According to statistics collected by the National Anorexia Nervosa Association, roughly 2% of American girls and 0.3 percent of boys will have anorexia over their lives.

Anorexia may afflict anybody of any gender, age, ethnicity, or cultural background, however, it most often affects teenage girls and women. Athletes, dancers, and anybody who works or learns in an environment that values slim bodies are especially vulnerable.

Prognosis varies from person to person. The vast majority of people who seek therapy report complete recovery in years to come; nevertheless, up to one-third are continuously afflicted or experience relapses. Women’s prevalence ranges from 0.3 to 0.5 percent to 1-3 percent.

People with anorexia generally avoid eating, follow restricted diets or fast for long periods of time, and hesitate or postpone consuming even tiny amounts of food, whereas those with bulimia have periods of dieting. Genetic and hierarchical effects in eating disorders can be common. Having a close relative with an eating disorder or any mental health problem raises the chances of developing one. An eating disorder is more likely to develop in someone who has a history of dieting or other severe weight reduction programs.

What is Bulimia Nervosa?

Bulimia nervosa is a kind of eating disorder that is also known as bulimia. It’s a severe illness that can lead to death. Food addiction followed by purging is the most common symptom. Forced vomiting, intense activity, or the use of laxatives or diuretics can all cause purging.
Bulimia sufferers purge or show purge behaviors, and they engage in a binge-and-purge cycle. Other rigorous techniques of weight maintenance, such as hunger, exercise, or severe diets, are also included in purge habits.

Bulimia may be classified into two kinds. Purging attempts are employed to distinguish them. Attempts to purge are now referred to as “wrong inappropriate compensatory” in the latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders :

  1. Bulimia nervosa, after binge eating, someone with this personality will frequently cause vomiting. They may also abuse laxatives, diuretics, or enemas.
  2. Bulimia that does not need purging. To avoid weight gain after a binge, someone with this personality type may fast or engage in an excessive activity instead of purging.

People with mental illnesses or a skewed perspective of reality are more vulnerable. People who have a strong urge to conform to societal standards and conventions are in the same boat.

Main Differences Between Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa

  1. Anorexia is an eating disorder that occurs in young females in their early teens whereas bulimia nervosa occurs in females in their late teens.
  2. Patients with anorexia nervosa are afraid of gaining weight whereas in the case of bulimia nervosa patients go through a cycle of binging and purging.
  3. Anorexia can cause anemia but bulimia nervosa can be responsible for fatigue and obesity.
  4. Anorexia nervosa cannot be fully treated by medication but bulimia nervosa can technically be cured by allopathic treatments and strict diet measures.
  5. Patients with anorexia avoid eating at all whereas the patients with bulimia go through mood swings and end up either over or under eating.


Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are some of the scariest eating disorders, usually targeting the female population. These disorders surely affect the physical orientation but are more disastrous for emotionally and psychologically weaker beings. Sometimes the society can be a catalyst in nurturing disorders like these, the social standards, bullies, and body shaming are some of the heinous acts that gave birth to disorders like these.

The cures of these disorders yet remain completely subjective as it changes from person to person. Soma may require clinical medication and some may require psychological surgery to drag themselves out of the emotional distress the patient is going through.


  1. https://www.psycom.net/eating-disorders/anorexia/
  2. https://www.healthline.com/health/bulimia-nervosa#causes
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