Bulimia And Depression – The Connection, Its Dangers, The Cycle, And Online Therapy

 

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What came first? Is it the chicken or the egg? Nobody can answer that question and the same rings true for the connection between bulimia and depression. If you think about it, why is the person depressed? Why is he or she bulimic? Could it be that he or she was suffering from depression first, that’s why the person developed an eating disorder? Or is it possible that through the person’s bulimia, he or she became depressed?

Symptoms of depression including sleep disturbance, excessive guilt, feelings of helplessness or hopelessness and loss of interest in activities that used to be pleasurable, can be the byproduct of feeling trapped or stuck in a behavior that they know on some level is harmful to them. — Lisa Ferentz LCSW-C, DAPA

Thinking about the extreme phenomenon is head-splitting, and truly crazy. Nobody wants to be depressed, but to be bulimic at the same time, it’s too much!

 

The Two Mental Health Disorders Go Hand In Hand

So, there you go. It’s official. A study revealed that people with anorexia tend to exhibit depression especially if they have bulimic tendencies. These are clinically diagnosed cases with a very high rate of people manifesting suicidal thoughts. A study by Levy in 1989 uncovered that people with bulimia are mostly depressed and have contemplated or attempted suicide. Another research proved that 59% of people with bulimia, who are of average weight, have suffered depression. As for anorexics, the rate is astounding at 80%.

 

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A Chain That Links Bulimia And Depression

You often hear bulimics say – I only want to lose weight. Yes, that’s usually the honest answer. People want to look fit and healthy even if their insides are not in tiptop shape.

Because patients deny the severity of their condition they cannot accept the effects of malnutrition on heart, brain, organ and bone health. — Judy Scheel Ph.D., L.C.S.W., CEDS

If you are bulimic, then you have a mental health issue since it is an eating disorder. You are not only sick physically, but you are also psychologically “ill,” so to speak. Your hormones are in constant disarray since your serotonin and norepinephrine levels are unstable. It can increase the risk of you developing a more extreme depressive disorder and an abnormal eating habit, or non-eating, for that matter.

 

Factors That Contribute To The Development Of Depression And Bulimia

–    Self and body image issues

–    The feeling of not being in control of his or her life

–    “Loser” attributes

–    Being unhealthily angry

–    Extreme sadness or feeling all alone

–    Insomnia or oversleeping

–    Failed relationships

–    Post-traumatic stress

–    Physical, verbal, emotional, and mental abuse

 

The Bulimic Cycle

They call it the “Act of Purging.” You binge-eat, and then you purge. Why? A bulimic person must feel in control, and after feeling guilty for overeating, they will throw it all up and by that, regain that “I-am-in-command” feeling. This pattern is called the bulimic cycle.

 

It is disturbing because the guilt trip can add to the severity of the depression in people with bulimia. As if one mental health disorder is not enough – they need to suffer more! It’s crazy! For some, they even commit suicide and succeed, which is very dangerous. Purging may be the lesser of two evils if the other choice is fatal self-harm. It will never be a good option, but then at least, the person still has a chance to survive. With overflowing support and massive help, bulimics with depression may be able to cope, heal, and in time, start a new life free from mental health issues.

 

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The truth is: weight is a lousy indication of health. — Alexis Conason Psy.D.

TreatmentFor Depression And Bulimia

Lisa Lilenfeld, Ph.D. from Argosy University in Arlington, VA said that there are two proven ways to help a depressed bulimic. One is through medication and intake of antidepressants. But this method is not safe for everyone.

 

The second way is through behavioral therapy. It may take a long time for the person to improve psychologically, but with regular sessions and follow-up, there is hope for a brighter future. For some, they also resort to online therapy when an actual face-to-face encounter is not viable. Anyway, as long as the treatment program is useful, then, there’s no problem. There are many reviews on the web about online platforms such as BetterHelp. A lot of people have testified to its benefits and how it worked wonders for them. If you want to learn more about this type of therapy, you can read about it or watch informative videos.

Helping Your Teen Fight Against Bulimia (Tips From A Psychiatrist)

  

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Bulimia nervosa, a severe psychiatric disorder, has made a significant impact on the society. According to a study, about eight million individuals in the United States (about 3% of the population) struggle with eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia. It affects men and women of all ages and race, whatever history, and background.

 

Moreover, the symptoms of bulimia often manifest at an early age, around teenage years. It is because disorders and mental issues often arise during stages of growth like puberty. But as parents, how can we pinpoint whether or not our child is struggling with bulimia? And most importantly, how can we help in seeking treatment and fighting against it?

Oftentimes, symptoms and behaviors are rationalized and minimized by the person who engages in them. — Lisa Ferentz LCSW-C, DAPA

Causes Of Bulimia

Like anorexia and other eating disorders, the exact cause of bulimia nervosa is often difficult to determine. There may be risks of forming genetic links if, say, a parent or a sibling is suffering from an eating disorder. Some studies imply that brain activity may influence food intake. Pop culture also has a significant role in projecting the perfect “body image” onto the public, which instills pressure and decreases the self-esteem of many.

 

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 Looking Out For Warning Signs And Symptoms

Your child may show some signs of bulimia nervosa or none at all. Most people keep the fact that they’re struggling with an eating disorder hidden, so observing and looking out for the following signs is very crucial:

 

  • Obsession with body image and weight
  • Unusual behavior around meals (eating in large quantities and feeling shameful after)
  • Social withdrawal
  • Hiding or hoarding food and groceries
  • Asking for money to buy binge food
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Excessive exercising

Clients with anorexia and bulimia who have pervasive psychological undercurrents motivating their behavior with food are negatively impacted by the billion dollar marketing efforts of the weight loss industry. — Dawn Delgado LMFT, CEDS-S

Your child may even suffer from symptoms of physical damage as a result of persistent binging and purging:

 

  • Menstrual irregularities or amenorrhea (loss of menstruation)
  • Poor bowel functioning
  • Hoarse and raspy voice condition
  • Mouth and throat sores
  • Teeth and gum damage
  • Scars on the knuckles, fingers, or hands (self-induced vomiting)

 

 

Seeking Treatment For Bulimia

The following treatments can be used to help your child:

 

Medicine

Antidepressants, from time-to-time, are used to decrease cycles of binge eating and purging as well as relieve anxiety and depression from the patient.

 

Counseling

Psychological counseling has two types: cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT). CBT pushes your child to change how he/she feels about body image and weight while IPT plays a significant role in teaching your child the impact of relationships and how those relationships and your child’s feelings towards them affect bingeing and purging.

Today, there are numerous options on how you can have therapy. You can opt for online counseling with the institution of your choice, such as BetterHelp. Many of those struggling with eating disorders have successfully overcome it with the help of qualified professionals.

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Tips To Follow For Parents Of Bulimics

As parents, what tips should you keep in mind when helping your child? Some of these tips were taken online from the articles of Dr. Kim Dennis, a psychiatrist connected with Timberline Knolls:

 

Communication. Keeping lines of communication open for your child is essential. They need to be consoled knowing that it’s okay to talk about their struggles and feelings.

 

Be patient and calm. Keep your frustrations at bay. It is clear that your child’s issue is very concerning and worrying, but it is best to be able to take the problem head on without anything blinding the way.

 

Help your child admit and accept that they’re struggling. Parents play a significant role in shaping their children to be who they will be in the future. Give them a nudge, sit down and have a talk or a good cry. Help them admit it to themselves and learn that what they are doing is distorted and not suitable for themselves.

 

Expose your child to positive outlets. Keep those fashion magazines away. Remind your child to avoid peers who body shame or continuously talk about weight loss, and look up better meal planning and healthy eating lifestyle.

 

Fight their unpleasant feelings with them. Identify what your child is feeling. Help them dig deeper and realize that these are not positively influencing your child. Distance from negativity and evil thoughts but accept it instead of running away from it.

 

Offer support. Always remember how your child feels and remind him/her you care.

Suggest professional help. When you talk, coax your child into seeking for help. Tell them it’s entirely helpful, and diminish any negative stigma about therapy and counseling.

The truth is: weight is a lousy indication of health. — Alexis Conason Psy.D.

Remember that your teen is developing and transitioning to adulthood. Avoid giving insults and patronizing jabs, it may hurt them more than you think. Always set a good example and take care of yourself; it is no exaggeration when people say that a child is a reflection of their parents. Lastly, always know when to accept your limits. There’s only so much a parent can do for their child. It is essential to keep in mind that your child is the one who will make decisions and make those big leaps to growth and betterment.

Facts About Exercise Bulimia (Is My Partner Suffering From It?) Part 2

If you haven’t read the Part 1 of this article, then it is recommended that you do so first before reading this one. The first article is all about Exercise Bulimia, in general. This writeup discusses the risks of the suffering from the disorder, recovery suggestions, and relevant questions with answers about the issue.

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The behaviors might get downplayed or even flat out denied by the person who is trying to sustain them. — Lisa Ferentz LCSW-C, DAPA

Exercise bulimia is not that hard to spot – excessive exercise, obsession with body image and body weight, constant checking of calories in food, losing weight drastically, erratic behavior – always wanting to work out, depression, and anxiety – these are just some of the signs. If you partner is displaying such symptoms, get help as soon as possible.

 

What Are The Risks Of Exercise Bulimia?

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Exercise bulimia, just like purging, poses life-threatening issues to the body. Below are some effects of the disorder:

 

Negative Impact On The Heart. Ideally, exercising should only last for a maximum of 50 minutes in a day. Pushing the limits will decrease the heart’s pumping ability. It will then lead to cardiovascular problems.

Because patients deny the severity of their condition they cannot accept the effects of malnutrition on heart, brain, organ and bone health. — Judy Scheel Ph.D., L.C.S.W., CEDS

Weakened Immune System. A hard workout can cause respiratory problems, and the treatment is prolonged since the body is stressed out.

 

Weakened Bones And Joints. People who exercise more than the recommended time is prone to getting bone fractures and torn joints.

 

Damage To Internal Organs. When the person is regularly stressed and restless, the toxins and free radicals that get inside the body can cause severe injuries to the organs.

 

Muscle Wear And Tear. Body ache is experienced due to strained tendons, ligaments, and muscles. If there is no rest state, the body can’t heal properly.

 

Vitamins And Mineral Deficiencies. Over-exercising depletes the nutrients and eventually causes complications.

 

Increased Food Cravings OrBinging. After every hard workout, the human body has this great urge to consume sugar. If this need is not met, it can lead to binge-eating.

 

What Steps Can I Take To Recover From Exercise Bulimia?

 

Get Professional Help. You can ask help from friends and family for support. There is a support group for people with exercise bulimia. You can find it online or within your community. It is also necessary to seek professional psychiatric help.

 

Practice Rest And Self-Care. Take care of yourself. Get into a healthy lifestyle and take adequate rest.

 

Manage Stress. Find other ways to manage your stress. There are numerous ways on how to do it like a spa day, reading a book, journaling, coffee time with your girls, and a lot more.

 

Ease Your Mind. Accept that at this point, over-exercising will do no good for you. From now on, you need to look at your purpose of being healthy from a positive angle.

 

Reduce the amount of time you spend working out. Lessen the time you spend exercising. Gradually do this until you are coping with the idea of liking your body image and loving yourself.

The truth is: weight is a lousy indication of health. — Alexis Conason Psy.D.

Do I Have To Stop Working Out Entirely To Recover?

 

If you want a full recovery from exercise bulimia, then you need to have a new and fresh outlook towards health and food. Exercising is part a person’s healthy lifestyle habits. You just have to do it accordingly without binge-eating and feeling guilty.

 

Will I Gain Weight If I Stop Exercising?

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Gaining weight is a possibility since you will be eating more food and lessening your exercise hours. The body will have to readjust its function, and the metabolism will soon pick up. Just go on with your healthy lifestyle and don’t go overboard again with your exercise. In time, your healthy weight and body will emerge.

 

Is A Full Recovery Possible?

Yes, it is possible. The moment you accept your body image and do something positive about it, you can achieve full recovery. You just have to listen to others and submit yourself to treatment if you want to get better.

 

Exercise bulimia is manageable, but then you need to prepare yourself for the long and painful road. It takes dedication and discipline to get through this mental health condition.

Facts About Exercise Bulimia (Is My Partner Suffering From It?) Part 1

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Jed thought that his wife was just determined to lose weight after their baby was born. She would only eat fruits and bread every day and was strict with her calorie counting. After that, his wife would perform a strenuous exercise routine. He didn’t mind it that much until he received a phone call at work. His wife died at the gym while she was working out and had cardiac arrest at age 34.

Sometimes the thinking by patients and family members is that if the effects of the illness are not overt, then how can a problem exist. — Judy Scheel Ph.D., L.C.S.W., CEDS

What Jed didn’t know was that his wife suffered from a psychological problem called Exercise Bulimia. Exercise Bulimia is a form of physical workout performed by a person who wants to shed off unwanted body fats and calories in an extreme manner. This exercise is done in a very rigid way compared to regular healthy exercise. The effect of exercise bulimia on the human body is more on the negative side rather than the positive side.

 

This type of exercise is done by people with bulimia as a replacement for purging, but the effect is still the same. It can put people’s health and life in danger. The whole situation can become life-threatening when the person purges and uses exercise bulimia, just to get rid of unwanted body fat and calories.

 

What Is Exercise Bulimia?

Exercise bulimia is classified as a type of bulimia nervosa. It is a workout style that is driven by the intense desire to burn out calories at the soonest possible time. The person with the disorder tracks down his food intake and then calculates how to burn them off.

 

Instead of purging, the person uses this form of exercise to disable the food intake from turning into excess fats. It is mostly accompanied by anxiety, especially if food and body image issues are present. Clearly, a person who suffers from exercise bulimia also has other mental health disorders to manage.

When weight, body size and shape are seen as synonymous with love, acceptance, and self-worth, young people are vulnerable to the efforts of the weight loss industry. — Dawn Delgado LMFT, CEDS-S

The Difference Between Getting Fit Through Exercise And Over-Exercising

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Getting fit and being obsessed with exercise lies on a very thin line. People work out several times a week to get healthy. Others are facing the risk of getting addicted to exercise coupled with bulimia and anxiety issues. On a worst-case scenario, some people would even do their workout routine if they are not feeling well just to meet their target. This action puts a person’s life at risk.

 

How Do I Know If I Have Exercise Bulimia?

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Since working out is one of the two means to get healthy and fit, exercise bulimia is hardly recognized at first. It will only be diagnosed as such when the result of rigid exercising surfaces. However, it can still be uncovered with the following questions:

 

  • Do you intentionally skip events, functions and other essential meetings so that you could work out?
  • Do you feel guilty whenever you miss a workout session?
  • Has anybody told you that you are exercising too much?
  • Do you have a target number of calories to be burned whenever you are exercising?
  • Do you rigidly track down the food you eat?
  • Is being fit very important to you?
  • Do you believe that your self-worth will be defined by how much you weigh or look?
  • For female respondents, is the menstruation flow extraordinarily light or infrequent?
  • Do you often take measurements of yourself?

Combining psychotherapy with nutritional therapies and yoga provides an integrative approach to efficacy and empowers our clients in their recovery process. — Leslie E. Korn Ph.D., MPH, LMHC, ACS, NTP

If you answered YES to at least five of the questions stated above, then you may be at risk of developing exercise bulimia. Now, if you responded YES to ALL THE QUESTIONS, then you have exercise bulimia, and you need immediate treatment.

 

There is a second part to this article which discusses the risks of exercise bulimia, how to recover from the same mental health disorder and other essential facts about it. It is in the hopes of the writer of this article that you’ve learned something about exercise bulimia by reading this short writeup. If you have a loved one who is exhibiting signs of exercise bulimia, then push for help and treatment immediately.