Bulimia nervosa is a psychological disorder categorized by the desire to lose weight and the overwhelming compulsion to binge-eat. Bulimics eat whatever they can get their hands on, binging until they feel pain and discomfort. After the binge, bulimics feel panicked and ashamed of how much they’ve eaten.
Typically, bulimics resort to purging (vomiting), fasting or exercising excessively to burn calories consumed during their binge. Not all bulimics purge to get rid of the calories they have consumed. People suffering from the disorder often resort to extreme exercise, crash diets and fasting. self-worth influenced by weight and physical appearance.
Three Important Bulimia Characteristics
- Regular episodes of out-of-control binge eating
- Inappropriate behavior to prevent weight gain
- Self-worth determined by weight and physical appearance
Signs and Symptoms of Bulimia
Most bulimics try to conceal their binging and purging habits. However, there are signs that reveal if someone has the eating disorder.
Signs and Symptoms Include:
- Lack of control over eating
- Eating large amounts of food
- Alternating between overeating and fasting
- Going to the bathroom after meals
- Smell of vomit
- Excessive exercise
- Calluses or scars on hands
- Discolored teeth
- Puffy cheeks
- Frequent fluctuations in weight
Effects of Bulimia
Bulimia disorder is a very dangerous disorder that can result many serious adverse health effect. If left untreated, bulimia can be fatal.
Health Effects Include:
- Abdominal pain & bloating
- Swelling of hands and feet
- Chronic sore throat
- Broken blood vessels in the eye
- Tooth decay
- Acid reflux or ulcers
- Loss of menstrual periods
- Chronic constipation
- Extreme Dehydration
- Decreased potassium levels
- Irregular heartbeat
- Kidney failure
Bulimia Treatment and Recovery
Treatment and recovery is possible for people suffering from bulimia. Bulimics typically suffer from poor body image (body dismorphia) and low self esteem. Therapy or psychotherapy has been noted as a very successful form of treatment.
The Three Phases of Bulimia Therapy
- Phase 1: In this phase of treatment, the focus is directed towards stopping the constant cycle of bingeing and purging. It is important to restore normal eating patterns. Patients learn to monitor their eating habits, avoid situations that could trigger binges, and cope with stress in other ways.
- Phase 2:The second phase of bulimia treatment addresses the patient’s dysfunctional beliefs about weight, dieting and body image. Patients learn other ways to build self-esteem unrelated to physical appearance.
- Phase 3: The final phase of treatment involves targeting underlying emotional issues that may have contributed to the disorder. Therapists focus on anxiety and depression issues, relationship issues and feelings of isolation and loneliness.
Treatment for bulimia has been proven to work better if the patient stops dieting. Once he or she stops restricting calories, the obsession and craving of food often subside. By eating normally, the binge-and-purge cycle can be broken and the person can reach and maintain a healthy weight.