A closer look at possible causes, symptoms and treatments of bulimia
What is bulimia?
Bulimia nervosa is a type of eating disorder. People diagnosed with an eating disorder usually have distorted views of their body image creating extreme disturbances in their eating behavior.
People experiencing bulimia regularly binge eat and purge. Binge eating involves consuming large amounts of food in relatively short periods of time while feeling out of control when taking in food. Binge eating is also usually followed by feelings of guilt and anxiety about becoming fat, which results in the desire and need to get rid of the food. This is called purging.
Some common ways to purge include:
Excessive exercising to burn calories
Taking laxatives, diuretics or diet pills
Not eating for several days after the binge
Symptoms of bulimia
As with anorexia, you can’t tell by someones weight if they have an eating disorder. It’s important to look closer at the physical, behavioral and mental symptoms present. Some of the common signs of bulimia include:
Eating unusually large amounts of food
Lacking control when eating
Being secretive about what is eaten and when
Visiting the bathroom after eating
Continual fluctuations in weight
Being very self-critical
Regularly tired/lacking energy
If you are experiencing a number of these signs, it may be helpful to go and talk with someone you trust like a family member, teacher, counselor or local doctor.
What causes bulimia?
Like other eating disorders, bulimia is a combination of physical and mental health difficulties; the cause is not clear. However, a number of factors may be associated with bulimia. These may include:
Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse
Cultural emphasis on slimness
Preoccupation with body image ideals
Difficult or tension-filled relationships with friends or family
Loss and grief
Physiological and psychological effects of dieting
Difficulty with coping
Suggestions for Treatment
The reasons that people experience bulimia may differ from person to person and the options for treatment may also differ depending on the situation and person. Whatever the reason, if you think you have bulimia, know that you deserve help and support.
You can talk to your local doctor about what treatment options are available and which may be best for you. If necessary, your doctor can also refer you to a mental health professional and a nutritionist. These professionals will talk with you about your food, weight beliefs, behaviors, and explore reasons why you may have developed these beliefs and behaviors. This can be done in a group situation or in a one on one situation. It is a good idea to talk with your doctor or therapist as to which is the best option for you.
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Acknowledgements: This article was originally developed by youth and staff for us.ReachOut.com