What Is Purging Disorder? Purging Disorder V/S Bulimia

Last Update on September 18, 2023 : Published on January 8, 2023

Eating disorders are one of the deadliest psychiatric conditions. All types of eating disorders harm both physical as well as mental health of an individual. An individual with an eating disorder has to deal with a disturbed body and a disturbed mind.

Purging disorder is unfortunately that eating disorder that is not talked about much. Did you know, almost 2.5% to 5% of adolescents are diagnosed with purging disorders every year across the globe?

According to mental health experts, the dieting culture that is seen lately is one of the leading causes of the development of purging disorders. In this blog, we will be exploring purging disorder, how it is different from bulimia, and its causes and treatment options.

Let’s begin…

What Is Purging Disorder?


Purging disorder is a type of eating disorder that can be characterized by compulsive purging after consuming meals or throughout the day. Purging is referred to a particular behavior that aims at reducing weight or manipulating one’s body shape.

Purging behaviors can be referred to as those actions that force some changes in the existing body shape and size. Let’s look at some examples of compulsive purging behaviors that are commonly seen in purging disorder;

  • Purposely vomiting out your meals
  • Misusing laxatives
  • Indulging in frequent, excessive, hardcore physical exercises
  • Compulsive fasting or starving

Purging disorder is not as recognized as other eating disorders. This is because the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) has not accepted Purging disorder as a separate condition. However, purging disorder is being diagnosed under the name “Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder”.

Also Read: Long Term Effects Of Bulimia Nervosa: Things You Should Keep In Mind

Purging Disorder VS Bulimia

Bulimia nervosa is one of the most common forms of eating disorder. Bulimia can be characterized by being stuck in a vicious cycle of indulging in binge eating – feeling guilty – purging behavior – emotional binge eating and so on…

Bulimia is an eating disorder where an individual shows two behaviors, guilty purging, and emotional eating. In bulimia, we can observe a compulsion of engaging in binge eating time and gain which is then followed by purging behavior.

However, purging disorder is very similar to bulimia but the only difference is that there is no compulsive binge eating in purging disorder. Both conditions include problematic thought processes regarding body image which results in purging behavior. Purging disorder does not have any binge eating response, hence, that’s the only way to tell these two conditions apart.

Symptoms Of Purging Disorder

  • Recurrent compulsive purging behavior
  • Experience intense emotional distress concerning body weight, shape, and size
  • Obsessive thought about losing weight
  • Fear of gaining weight
  • Low self-esteem & low self-confidence
  • Body image issues
  • Self-worth is dependent on body weight

What Causes Purging Disorder?

Causes Purging Disorder

Mental health experts are not very sure of what exactly causes the development of conditions like purging disorder. It because there is a lack of evidence but because that is a lot of factors that can influence the human mind into having different beliefs.

Each individual goes through different experiences in life. There is a huge spectrum of possibilities and consequences of various different experiences and their interaction with our genetics and our environment.

However, experts do claim that there are  some most common factors that can make an individual develop a purging disorder, like;

  • The societal acceptance of a certain body type
  • Constant Comparison of body shapes and sizes
  • The new dieting culture
  • Having someone in the family with an eating disorder
  • Depression or other mental health condition
  • Low self-esteem and body image issues
  • Glorifying only 1 body type

How To Stop Purging Disorder?

Since the cause of purging disorder can be different for every individual, the treatment approach also differs from person to person. Eating disorders like purging disorders affect both physical as well as mental health therefore, the treatment caters to your mind and your body.

The most commonly used treatment plan for eating disorders like purging disorder is psychotherapy with a combination of some psychiatric drugs. Along with that, you will also be advised to see a nutritionist so that you can develop good eating habits.

In most cases, purging disorder can be treated in the outpatient section but in severe cases, hospitalization is also possible. However, along with your treatment, you can also engage in some self-help activities that will help in reducing the intensity of your symptoms, like;

  • Indulge in mindfulness meditation
  • Try journaling to track your mood and identify triggers
  • Eliminate stress by distancing yourself from people who don’t believe in body positivity
  • Have a strong support system
  • Join support groups because you should know you’re not alone

That’s All Folks!

I hope you found this blog about purging disorder helpful, informative, and interesting. Do share this with your friends and family because it will make it easier for everyone to identify eating disorders like purging disorders and early treatment can begin.

Thanks for reading.

Take care and stay safe.

About The Author

Kirti Bhati
Kirti Bhati

I am an English literature (major) and psychology (minor) graduate from St. Bede’s College, Shimla. Postgraduate in Clinical psychology from IIS University, Jaipur. She has published a Research paper on Music therapy in the military population and Workplace stress in a national seminar conducted by Fortis hospital (gurugram) and international seminar conducted by St. Bede’s College, Shimla, Respectively. Authored a dissertation work on ‘effect of social media addiction on the mental and physical well-being in adolescents’ Currently working at calm sage as a writer.

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