What are the differences between the two types of anorexia nervosa?

The two types of anorexia nervosa are the “Restricting Type” and the “Binge-Eating/Purging Type.” Here are the key differences between these two subtypes:

  1. Restricting Type:
    • Primary characteristic: Individuals with the restricting type of anorexia nervosa primarily achieve weight loss and maintain a low body weight through strict dieting, fasting, and calorie restriction.
    • Absence of binge-eating or purging behaviors: People with the restricting type do not regularly engage in episodes of binge-eating or purging behaviors, such as self-induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives, or excessive exercise.
    • Control over food intake: They exert a high level of control over their food consumption, limiting their calorie intake and often avoiding certain food groups.
    • Weight loss driven by food restriction: Their weight loss primarily results from the consistent restriction of food and calories.
  2. Binge-Eating/Purging Type:
    • Presence of binge-eating or purging behaviors: Individuals with the binge-eating/purging type of anorexia nervosa regularly engage in episodes of binge-eating or purging behaviors alongside restrictive eating patterns.
    • Binge-eating: Binge-eating involves consuming an abnormally large amount of food within a discrete period, feeling a loss of control during the episode.
    • Purging behaviors: Purging behaviors include self-induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives, diuretics, or enemas, or excessive exercise to compensate for the consumed food.
    • Weight loss may still occur: Despite the presence of binge-eating and purging, individuals with this subtype may still experience significant weight loss due to overall low calorie intake and energy imbalance.

It’s important to note that individuals may transition between these subtypes over time, and some individuals may display a combination of restrictive and binge-eating/purging behaviors. Moreover, there are individual variations in the expression and severity of symptoms within each subtype.

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Seeking professional help from healthcare providers and mental health specialists is essential for an accurate diagnosis, as they can assess an individual’s specific symptoms and determine the appropriate treatment plan.