Understanding Bulimia

Fredericka Smead

What is Bulimia? Bulima is an eating disorder that can affect anyone at any age but tends to be more common in teenagers, particularly young girls.  It is a serious mental health condition also referred to as bulimia nervosa.  It causes people to become obsessed with losing weight and their physical appearance.  This results in…

What is Bulimia?

Bulima is an eating disorder that can affect anyone at any age but tends to be more common in teenagers, particularly young girls.  It is a serious mental health condition also referred to as bulimia nervosa.  It causes people to become obsessed with losing weight and their physical appearance.  This results in them getting caught in a cycle of binge eating, where they eat large amounts of food often quickly, then purge themselves by either vomiting, taking laxatives, fasting or exercising for long periods.  This cycle can cause serious physical and mental health conditions and be very difficult to break.  People with Bulimia often feel as though they have lost control and compensate by controlling their diet and weight.

Causes

Whilst there is in no single known cause for bulimia, it is believed that the following circumstances can all be contributory factors or make you more susceptible to it.  If you suffer with anxiety, low self-esteem or an obsessive personality, have been sexually abused or suffered trauma.  Feel pressured to be slim because of your job or social status or have been criticised about your weight, body shape or eating habits.  Having a family member who has had an eating disorder, depression or alcohol or drug addiction.

Physical Symptoms

·      Constipation

·      Mood swings which can be caused by blood sugar levels

·      Problems sleeping

·      Bloating

·      Stomach pain

·      Vomiting

·      Callouses on the back of the hand from using fingers to induce vomiting

·      Binge eating

·      Electrolyte imbalances

·      Vitamin deficiencies

·      Dehydration

·      Feeling weak or faint

·      Swelling of the feet, hands, face or throat

·      Using laxative or diuretics to excess

·      Dry, flaky or itchy skin conditions

Complications

·      Acid reflux

·      Damage to tooth enamel and tooth decay

·      Gum disease

·      Digestive problems

·      Bad breath from stomach acids

·      Damage to the throat caused by vomiting or acid reflux

·      Ulcers

·      Menstrual cycle stopping or becoming irregular

·      Heart problems

·      Kidney failure

·      Nutrient deficiencies

Psychological Symptoms

·      Fear of weight gain

·      Negative self-image

·      Anxiety

·      Depression

·      Low self-esteem

·      Feeling of guilt or self-loathing

Behavioural Changes

·      Not eating in front of other people

·      Exercising compulsively

·      Withdrawing socially

·      Going to the bathroom straight after eating meals

·      Being self-critical about how they look and referring to themselves as fat

·      Using supplements to aid weight loss

·      Are reluctant to see their reflections in mirrors

Self Help

The internet is a good place to start looking for ways to help with bulimia.  There are lots of different organisations, who can help you with support or advice.  They can provide help with one-to-one telephone advice and on-line courses, or work books.   

Professional Help

You should contact your doctor if you believe you are suffering from bulimia, they will be able to check for any related physical conditions that it may have caused and prescribe relevant medication if required.  They can also prescribe you with anti-anxiety medication or antidepressants if you are feeling anxious or depressed. 

They should refer you to see a nutritionist who can help you to learn healthier eating habits and develop a long-term diet plan.  They may also suggest that you seek therapy such as talking therapies like psychotherapy and CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy), that can help you change your negative thinking patterns and habits, to help with your recovery.  Written by Jan, Jeana and Wendy at Barnsley Hypnosis and Counselling (UK).  For more free information click above link.