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Differences between Bulimia and Binge Eating Disorder

Terrine Pearsall

427 Posts



Now that eating disorders such as bulimia and binge eating are gaining popular attention, a question many have is, “What are the differences between bulimia and binge eating?” The definitions and causes of bulimia and binge eating will be explained.

What are the Differences?

Binge eating is characterized by excessive eating followed by feelings of shame and guilt, whereas bulimia is most simply defined as the obsession over one’s body image. Bulimia is a bit more complex of a disorder, and according to many psychologists may soon be characterized as a delusional disorder. Thus, bulimia will be discussed last.

binge eating

Binge eating is often the result of underlying causes. If you suffer from binge eating, it is likely that you have experienced past trauma, depression, stress, anxiety, or other psychological hindrances. Oftentimes, individuals find comfort in food, and eat in order to relax and distract themselves from trauma, stress, and/or anxiety. It is interesting to note that if you struggle with binge eating but not depression, you may still be prescribed an anti-depressant by your therapist. The reason for this is that both binge eating and depression are partly caused by a deficiency of serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that regulates energy and hunger. Anti-depressants increase your levels of serotonin so that your hunger will be better regulated. Binge eating may also be caused by biological factors. If someone in your family had binge eating disorder, you are at an increased risk of binge eating. Although the results are not conclusive, studies have also shown that binge eating may be partly caused by mutations in proteins that regulate blood sugar and metabolism.

Now bulimia will be discussed. As stated earlier, many psychologists are stating that bulimia may soon be listed as a delusional disorder instead of an eating disorder. Those who are bulimic obsess over their body image. Also, they often eat excessively then vomit voluntarily. Those who struggle with bulimia do not see themselves as meeting the societal expectations of beauty, regardless of how thin they are. Most with bulimia will be dangerously thin, yet state that they are “too fat” or not beautiful enough. The image of beauty in pop culture today has stressed that being thin is the essence of beauty. If you are bulimic, however, you will feel that you must be beautiful, and thus must be thin. Regardless of how thin you are, if you are bulimic, you will feel as though you are never thin enough to meet the societal expectations of beauty.

Underlying factors contributing to bulimia are often past trauma, low self-esteem, depression, and other factors. The most effective treatment for bulimia is to seek out a therapist. In doing so, a therapist will help you identify the underlying factors to your condition. Treatment for bulimia may last over a year, but you will likely see improvement at least within the first few months of treatment.
If you suffer from bulimia and self-induce vomiting or abuse diuretics, you are likely at a serious risk of dehydration. Bulimic behavior is everything but healthy. If you are struggling with bulimia it is vital that you visit you doctor or seek out professional help as dehydration can lead to serious health risks.


Both binge eating disorder and bulimia are serious conditions that require immediate attention. If you struggle with either of these conditions, it is vital that you seek out professional help. You deserve to be happy and healthy, and finally be free to see that you are truly beautiful.


binge eating
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