Bulimia, also known as bulimia nervosa, is a chronic illness in which an individual first gorges on food and then uses improper methods to rid him/herself of it by throwing up, fasting, an excess use of laxatives and/or diuretics or compulsive exercising. People suffering from bulimia are usually either stressed, depressed or both, and are low on self esteem. On a closer examination, issues of control lie at root of bulimia. While bulimics are unable to control the quantity or frequency of their binges, they get into an obsessive vicious cycle of first having a bingeing bout and then purging themselves, only to feel deep self-loathing and despondency. This turns them back to the cycle of addiction - eating and purging - in order to have an artificial sense of control. Bulimics, however, unlike anorexics, look perfectly normal.
Bulimic behavior often starts out as a seemingly harmless attempt by some at losing weight but soon becomes a dangerous part of their lives before they realize it. Although bulimia revolves around the obsession with eating and purging, it is actually also a deeper sign of personal anxiety and emotional problems. Bulimics hate their addiction so they make an extra effort to appear confident, independent and outgoing even if not really so. Due to the embarrassment involved, bulimics are often tremendously secretive and try to behave normally in front of others. If not overcome, Bulimia can be fatal.
Causes, Symptoms And Treatment Of Bulimia Nervosa
- Family pressure, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance, dissatisfaction about the body shape and fear of becoming fat are some of the main causes for bulimia.
- Young minds are very vulnerable. The media hype for thinner figures makes them very susceptible to bulimia.
- People under a lot of stress are more likely to suffer from bulimia.
- Bulimia is also found to be more common in people with anxiety. disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) or personality disorders.
- People with altered levels of serotonin - a brain chemical - are also prone to bulimia.
- Genes can also be responsible for a bulimic tendency.
Some of the most common symptoms of bulimia are:
- The urge to overeat
- The vicious cycle of bingeing and purging
- Malnutrition, dehydration, dry skin
- Swelling of lower legs, feet, cheeks and jaw-line
- Over exercising
- Scarred knuckles from forced vomiting
- Dental problems (excess stomach acid from constant vomiting damages the teeth enamel, and can even cause tooth decay)
- Frequent visits to the bathroom after every meal
- Regular abuse of laxatives, diuretics, diet pills or all
- Regular changes in weight, unrealistic opinions about body size and weight, depression and anxiety
- Isolation, too, can be a symptom in some people
- The first step in curing bulimia is to stop the deathly cycle of bingeing and purging, and restoring normal eating habits
- Changing false beliefs about weight, physical proportion and appearance can also play a major part in curing bulimia
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CTP) is the most common therapy for curing bulimia. It involves talking to a therapist and changing food habits and false beliefs of the body size and shape.
- Family Based Treatment (FBT) helps bulimics to an extent
- Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) can also help in curing bulimia. It involves discussing personal problems with a therapist. This therapy focuses more on the personal life and relationships than food habits.
- Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) are the antidepressants used to treat bulimia. They are mainly used to treat depressions but can also used to treat eating disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), anxiety and social phobia.
- If you are at risk of suicide or self-harm then hospital treatment is also an option. Usually bulimia is not treated in the hospital unless there are serious health complications.