Bulimia is an eating disorder characterized by episodes of binging and purging (i.e. eating large amount in a short space of time followed by self-induced vomiting) as a way to control weight gain. The use of laxatives and diuretics are common.
WHAT CAUSES BULIMIA?
There is not one but many factors that might cause Bulimia. They are not always easy to identify but they might include any of the following:
- Frequent concern over weight gain
- Engaging in diets
- Poor confidence
- Emotional distress
- Family dynamics (e.g. pressure) and attitude towards body image and food
- Stress e.g. sudden change, loss, disappointment, death, abuse
WHO GETS BULIMIA?
Anyone can develop bulimia and at any age. Most affected appear to be young women between the ages of 14 to 25. However, men are also affected.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF BULIMIA?
Symptoms will vary and can go completely unnoticed. However, the following are quite common:
- Constantly thinks of food
- Calorie counts
- Eats excessive amounts in a very short space of time followed by purging
- Dislikes own physical appearance
- Goes frequently to the toilet, especially after meals
- Struggles with feelings of guilt
- Signs of Anxiety, Depression, Obsessive compulsive disorders
- Substance use
HOW OFTEN WILL I BINGE?
Frequency will vary from one person to another. Episodes could range anywhere from several times a day to a few times per months.
WHAT ARE THE LONG-TERM PHYSICAL SIDE EFFECTS?
Long-term effects could include:
- Irregular heartbeats
- Low blood pressure
- Feeling faint
- Tooth decay
- Sore throat
- Rupture of the oesophagus
- Facial swell
- Damage to kidneys
- Dry skin
- And many more effects that could lead in some severe cases to trigger epilepsy or death.
HOW DOES BULIMIA AFFECT YOUR FAMILY LIFE?
Bulimia affects the whole family. The secret life of the bulimic is often very difficult for families to understand which can lead to frequent arguments, especially during meal times.
HOW IS BULIMIA TREATED?
Bulimia needs specialist help to treat both the psychological causes and its physical side effects. This is a process that can take time and will depend largely on the motivation levels of the person with bulimia to want to change. A multidisciplinary team composed of a medical doctor, a psychotherapist, a nutritionist amongst other experts will be required. Depending on levels of severity, either outpatient or inpatient treatment maybe advised.
Seeking help can be difficult and filled with a lot of ambivalence. At MEEDA, we are here to help provide support and guide you in the best way possible. You can contact us or request a short talk over our Online HotLine.
CAN I RECOVER FROM BULIMIA?
Full recovery from bulimia is possible and many do recover in just a few months with the right professional help.