A lot of young people worry about their weight and body shape and many will try to lose weight by dieting or exercising. But for some, the issue of weight becomes more significant and they develop a serious eating disorder. The main types of eating disorder are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.
Someone with anorexia nervosa eats very little, and worries about food and weight a great deal, even though eventually they become underweight. Young people with anorexia feel that things will be better if they are thinner. Other people may tell you that you are thin but you think that you are fat.
Someone with bulimia is also very worried about their weight. To try and control their weight they become trapped in a cycle of binge eating and then making themselves sick or taking laxatives to get rid of the food.
The main signs of anorexia nervosa include:
- losing weight, even when you are below a safe weight for your age and height
- eating less and less food
- feeling panicky about eating food with other people or having a big meal
- feeling moody or irritable because of the lack of food
- girls’ periods may stop, while boys stop having erections
- being very concerned about everyone else’s body size and comparing yourself to them
- exercising a lot and doing more activities to burn calories.
The main signs of bulimia nervosa include:
- worrying more and more about your weight
- eating a lot of food in one go – binge eating
- feeling guilty or depressed after eating lots of food in one go
- making yourself vomit
- using laxatives and/or diuretics to get rid of food by having to go to the toilet
- exercising a lot
- girls having irregular periods
- being very secretive about what you are doing and hiding it from other people.
Anorexia and bulimia are not just about food. They are about feelings and emotions too. You may become anorexic or bulimic because you want to be in control of something in your life to help you cope with stress and painful feelings.
Bulimia can cause serious harm to the body in the long term. If anorexia it is left untreated you can become dangerously underweight and have long-term physical problems. However, it is possible for you to recover from both disorders with help and treatment.
If you have any of these difficulties, it’s really important that you speak to someone so that you can get help.
If you want to know more about anorexia or bulimia and the help you can get you might find these websites useful: