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Sometimes I go days without eating, and when I finally do eat I purge it. Does this constitute me as bulimic or anorexic?

It’s not unusual to have more than one eating disorder. Anorexia is characterized by excessive food restriction or starvation, and usually includes a compulsion to become extremely thin. Bulimia is an eating disorder in which binge eating is followed by purging with laxatives or self-induced vomiting. Bulimia and anorexia can affect almost all parts of a person’s life, including body development and puberty.

Many women who suffer from eating disorders have these symptoms:

  • dry, scaly skin — skin may be yellow or gray
  • loss of muscle as well as fat
  • loss of menstrual periods and, sometimes, fertility in women
  • loss of sexual desire

Eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia can lead to liver damage, heart failure, and bone loss, among other things. Some warning signs of eating disorders include extreme thinness, deliberate self-starvation, compulsive exercise, extreme fear of gaining weight, and a distorted body image.

Most people with eating disorders will probably need professional intervention, and treatment for eating disorders can be successful. The first step is getting helpful counseling. Your school guidance counselor or social worker is a good place to start to help you find expert counseling.

You can also check out the website of the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders. The website offers hotlines, international listings for support groups, guidelines for finding a therapist, and lots of information.

Finally, many Planned Parenthood centers can provide referrals for counseling. People needing referrals can contact the Planned Parenthood health center nearest you.

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