What are the signs of Bulimia and how can you help?

September 6, 2016

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Bulimia is a medical condition signified by an insatiable desire to keep eating and eating until you gorge yourself, all in a short span of time. Bulimia Nervosa is defined by the National Eating Disorders Association as, “a serious, potentially life-threatening eating disorder characterized by a cycle of bingeing and compensatory behaviors such as self-induced vomiting designed to undo or compensate for the effects of binge eating.” Listed below are symptoms, warning signs of bulimia, causes of bulimia, and bulimia treatment options.

The Symptoms:

  • often consuming large amounts of food followed by self-induced vomiting to try and counter that action and/or prevent weight gain;
  • feelings of being out of control while binge-eating; and
  • loss of self-esteem/self-image as it relates to the perceived image of the body.

The Warning Signs:

  • large amounts of food disappearing within short time frames (i.e. finding empty wrappers or empty containers as evidence of foods eaten);
  • several trips to the bathroom after meals, finding empty wrappers from laxatives or diuretics;
  • atypical swelling of the jaw or cheek area;
  • rigid exercise routine, regardless of weather or illness;
  • withdrawal from friends/family;
  • stained or discoloration of teeth;
  • calluses on back of hands (due to the practice of self-induced vomiting);
  • significant lifestyle changes to accommodate time for binge-and-purge activity;
  • behavioral changes wherein dieting and weight loss become uppermost priority; and
  • continuing exercise routine despite injuries brought on by exercising too much.

The Causes of Bulimia

  • While the exact causes of Bulimia Nervosa are not thoroughly known or completely understood, the main focus on causes suggest that the following are intimately tied to the condition.
  • Poor self-esteem;
  • Stressful life situations/life changes;
  • Negative body self-image;
  • History of trauma or abuse; and/or
  • Activities or careers in which there is significant focus on appearance

Bulimia Treatment Options

Most treatment options for Bulimia Nervosa include psychological counseling and possibly even medication for depression, in some instances. Counseling should be considered long-term treatment. If depression or substance abuse are issues also suffered, treatment could take longer.

Healthy Futures provides an intensive outpatient program (IOP) for Bulimia. The program includes education on nutrition, help with meal planning, group therapy, providing education for family members, and DBT skills training. Learn to recognize the warning signs of Bulimia.  Those suffering from Bulimia need to learn new life skills that will help them cope with the symptoms of this disorder. Let us help you get your life back.

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