Bulimia or bulimia nervosa is a severe eating disorder that involves consuming copious amounts of food at one time. During an episode, those that binge has no control over their eating. Because of the worry of weight gain, they use unhealthy ways to lose weight.
What is Bulimia Nervosa?
According to NationalEatingDisorders.org, bulimia nervosa is a serious and often life-threatening eating disorder that is characterized by binge eating and then vomiting or other self-harming actions to undo the calories gained by the binge eating.
Signs and Symptoms of Bulimia Nervosa
Both parents and medical personnel should be on the lookout for signs of bulimia. Here are some of the warning signs to look for according to UPMC Center for Eating Disorders
- Self-induced vomiting, especially after eating
- Overuse of laxatives, diet pill, and diuretics
- Excessive preoccupation with food
- Excessive exercise
- Reducing caloric intake between binges by choosing low-calorie foods and avoiding foods they perceive as fattening
- The person may also have an unrealistic fear of gaining weight
- May have a desire to lose weight
- Has a dissatisfaction with their body shape and size?
The Onset of Bulimia Nervosa
Those that suffer from bulimia, usually weigh within the normal weight for their age and height but have an unrealistic fear of gaining weight. According to John Hopkins Medical University, bulimia nervosa is a psychiatric illness that centers on food and food consumption. These behaviors can interfere with physical, psychological, and social well-being.
In most cases, the common age of onset is between the ages of 12 and 25. It is more common in females, with only 10% of the cases being in males. Eating disorders may begin due to stressful life events, these can include:
- Loss or trauma
- Relationship issues
- Physical illness
- Life changes like entering teenage years, starting college, marriage, and pregnancy.
Many eating disorders including bulimia, develop along with psychiatric illnesses, including:
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Substance abuse
In addition, many of those that develop eating disorders tend to be perfectionistic, eat to please, and are overly sensitive to criticism and self-doubt. They like routine and have difficulty with change.
Identifying Bulima Nervosa
Mayo Clinic suggests seeing a physician and discussing concerns including:
- Eating habits and weight-loss methods
- Physical issues such as cessation of periods, etc.
- Conducting a physical exam, running blood and urine tests
- Ordering tests such as electrocardiograms may be ordered
- Conducting psychological evaluations, including a discussion of attitude toward your body and weight
After conducting these tests on the patient, the physician will be able to recommend a viable treatment plan.
Treatment for Bulimia
There is not a one-size, fits-all treatment for bulimia, through psychotherapy and antidepressants have had great results.
Here are some other effective treatments:
- Psychotherapy: Counseling and talk therapy to discuss bulimia and related issues can greatly help the patients.
- Cognitive therapy: This can help improve the symptoms of bulimia.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy: This can help the patient normalize eating patterns, identify unhealthy beliefs and behaviors, and replace them with healthy ones.
- Family treatment: The whole family therapy helps the family understand the bulimic’s issues and provides ways to aid in their recovery.
- Medication: Some antidepressants help reduce the symptoms when used along with psychotherapy.
- Nutrition education: Working with a dietitian can help the bulimic understand healthy eating habits and restore good nutrition.
- Hospitalization/treatment facilities: In most cases, bulimia does not require in-house treatment, but there are instances where popular bulimia nervosa treatment by Ocean Recovery, and other such treatment facilities, are required.