Anorexia nervosa is self-starvation and obsession with being thin. Anorexics often refuse to eat because of their extraordinary fear of weight gain. Some symptoms include fear of eating in public, lack of emotion, trouble sleeping, menstrual irregularities, low blood pressure and dehydration. Sometimes downy hair appears on the body.
Bulimia involves binging and purging, either through vomiting, unnecessary use of laxatives or exercising excessively. People suffering from bulimia often have low self-esteem and intense focus on body shape and weight. Physical effects of bulimia may include mouth sores, menstrual irregularities and dehydration.
Binge eaters often eat when they are not hungry and continue eating until they are uncomfortably stuffed. Feelings of guilt and shame follow a binge episode, but those feelings may trigger another binge. Binge eaters may eat rapidly, and they tend to eat alone. They have a strong sense of being out of control.
No matter which eating disorder someone may suffer, medical attention is important. In some cases, the symptoms may be life threatening. In other cases, behavioral therapy and group support may provide the necessary help. In all cases, getting proper treatment and addressing the underlying psychological issues is essential.