In today's society many people are affected by eating disorders and their deadly side effects. Two of the most common eating disorders, anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, are often confused for one another because they each share many of the same qualities; however, each disorder has its own distinct behaviors that make it quite different from the other. Because each disorder is serious and can be deadly, it is important for people to understand each one individually in order to be able to distinguish each disorder from the other.
In comparison, both eating disorders involve dangerous behaviors that the victims of the disorders believe to either aid in the loss of weight or prevent the gain of weight. The victims of both disorders generally have poor self-images and emotional stress that is often accompanied by feelings of guilt and depression. Another strong comparison to make between anorexia and bulimia is that psychologists have yet to find out if the causes of the disorders are from genetics, the environment, or a combination of both genetic and environmental factors. Most theories today conclude that both disorders stem from a combination of genetic factors, such as chemical imbalances in the hypothalamus or pituitary gland, and environmental factors, such as the value of slenderness and the rejection of obesity. Another strong comparison is that both disorders are found to be much more common among females than males.
In contrast, the two eating disorders vary from each other in that each disorder has its own distinct practices and behaviors in which its victims partake. Practices for victims of anorexia nervosa include refusal to eat any kind of food and denial that their behaviors and unhealthy appearance are unusual. Practices for victims of bulimia nervosa differ in that the victims will binge on incredibly large and abnormal quantities of food and then purge, which is often done by either inducing vomit or taking laxatives, in order to rid their bodies of the large mass of food in which they consumed while binging.