Bulimia and anorexia, the diseases of self-esteem

Bulimia and anorexia, the diseases of self-esteem

Eating disorders are now a frequent pathology. Partly because of the greater awareness of what this disorder implies, and also due to the socio-cultural pressure of beauty models, but above all the emptiness that institutions have left in society.


  • 1 Anorexia and bulimia: the main eating disorders
  • 2 Characteristics of eating disorders
  • 3 Differential symptoms between anorexia and bulimia
  • 4 How do these diseases appear?
  • 5 Adolescence: the stage of greatest risk for eating disorders

Anorexia and bulimia: the main eating disorders

Bulimia and anorexia are at the order of the news because of young women and adolescents who are admitted to borderline situations and even some who lose their lives as a result of organic deterioration.

The approach of these pathologies reached this point is urgent and requires a team of professionals from different areas working in an integral way.

But before the pathology there is a human being, a subject who is prevented from developing all his potentials and who needs help.

Behind the apparent disinterest in life, in the devaluation of one's body, in one's own health, in isolation, there is an individual who paradoxically struggles to achieve his own esteem and that of the other.

It is to this human being, to the person who is suffering, who should be given a support, a scaffold to move to a firmer ground.

Its environment will also have to be given the necessary support to assume itself as such and thus achieve a new perspective, from which, the pathology becomes a circumstance and not a way of linking. The conscious or not requirement of an environment that is not possible to conform and that does not record subjective needs and feelings.

The therapeutic support plays a vital role, both in the recovery of the patient, and in the patient-environment (or family) relationship.

Characteristics of eating disorders

They are characterized by large irregularities in the way of eating, related to the expression of feelings.

People who suffer from them usually undergo prolonged periods of fasting or alternate rigorous diets with uncontrolled eaters, and resort to purges, vomiting and / or excessive physical activity as a compensatory mechanism. Concern for the body and food can control people's health, well-being and life.

In its appearance, factors from the sociocultural, biological, psychological and family spheres are involved.

Differential symptoms between anorexia and bulimia

Anorexics frequently wear large clothes to hide their extreme thinness. The symptoms are:

Depression. They are withdrawn and their greatest concern revolves around food.

Extreme dependence on guidelines imposed by others.

Excess of love to his own body making them forget the love of relationship life leading them to isolation.

Self-esteem goes through the balance.

Insomnia and hyperactivity.

Cessation of menstruation or postponement of its initiation.

Dry and cold skin, with hair on arms, face and back.

Distortion of body image: they look fat in front of the mirror and feel fat.

Extreme rigidity in your exercise routine.

Strict feeding rules such as not drinking or eating without having exercised before.

Slow physical and social development.

Bulimics dock and vomit from once a week to five times a day. There are other observable symptoms:

Constant concern for food.

Extreme fear of gaining weight.

Distortion of body image; They look fat in front of the mirror and they feel fat.

Dry skin and brittle hair.

Swollen glands under the jaw as a result of vomiting, which makes the face appear as fat.

Depression and mood swings.

Fatigue and cold sweating due to the rapid change in blood sugar level.

They go to the bathroom immediately after eating food.

Self-induced vomiting, use of laxatives and diuretics.

Vascular ruptures on the face or under the eyes, loss of teeth, general irritation of the digestive system

How do these diseases appear?

There are several factors. The genetic: families with a history of obsessive diseases, anxiety, depression and addictions. On the other hand, an irregular diet and the tendency to make diets. Losing too much weight or too fast leads to the so-called "bounce effect", the meal, and its subsequent compensation: fasting, laxatives, diuretics, exaggerated physical activity.

In the familiar: conflicts, separations, the habit of dieting without installing effective changes, sick habits in eating, excessive demands on the body. In the psychological, they are related to a low level of self-esteem and assertiveness, and little acceptance of themselves.

Sources of stress, such as past and present abuse, changes in adolescence, losses, rapes or sexual abuse, are also closely linked to these diseases.

However, beyond all of the above, these diseases are closely related to culture and its mandates. A real confusing climate has been created, of division, demand and, above all, exhaustion with respect to the ideal of beauty. And this happens more and more in younger women.

Societies that do not have mass media with super-thin models, have almost no anorexia and bulimia. All the conditions listed above are placed at the service of the obsession with thinness.

Adolescence: the stage of greatest risk for eating disorders

Nowadays, the lack of referents and supports of the adult world enhances the lack of clear and defined direction characteristic of the adolescent. They are marginalized in a space of exclusion, excess and excessive, immersed in a feeling of emptiness, helplessness and suffering.

It is necessary to build an edge to avoid self-destructive pathologies. Adolescence is an auspicious moment for psychic fracture. They need reliable ties and at the same time the conflict with the representatives of the adult world is unleashed.

Limited among the essentially negative of no longer of childhood, and of not yet of adult insertion, adolescent temporality - Miguel Leivy refers - tends to fall back on immediacy, the present. ”(Chapter VII- Teen Vulnerability - Territories of the OT.)


When talking about eating disorders we refer to pathologies of the order of the psychological, the social, and the organic.

In very serious cases the main thing is to save life, where the team of cardiologists, nutritionists, endocrinologists, gynecologists, etc. They will intervene for this purpose.

Once out of immediate risk, it is absolutely necessary that professionals from different areas form a firm but flexible network that supports but does not “curl” the patient. Outlining a strategy that contemplates the individuality of the patient, and where each team member functions as a rope in the framework of this single network would be the way to optimize the strategy.

The therapeutic accompaniment (TA), in this specific pathology fulfills a very delicate function. It is common that in these patients the feeling of persecution by family, teachers, friends, in short, people from the immediate surroundings who, for example, an internment or an episode of decompensation, want to "help" the patient by forcing him to eat or controlling the intake. The TA can be lived as a persecuting agent, which hinders a positive transfer to the strategy. The function of the OT is to just open the space of the question, give rise to reflection, to subjectivity.

It is essential that the AT according to the equipment and its communication be as fluid as possible, and in turn achieve communication with the patient that opens the way to a therapeutic transfer.

Given the relapse risks and how dangerous these can be especially at the time of the transfer from the internment to the externalization, the TA is a very useful tool in the recovery. It is a possibility of a different link where the patient can be assumed as a subject. The unlimited and impossible requirement to satisfy (being thin, being accepted, being loved, belonging to the culturally determined stereotype as a model ...) the type of primary bond that the patient (mother-food-satisfaction) has experienced in the early stages of life, the link with his own body and self-esteem put his physical and psychic life at risk.

Related tests
  • Depression test
  • Goldberg depression test
  • Self-knowledge test
  • how do others see you?
  • Sensitivity test (PAS)
  • Character test