Managing Your Mental Health With Bulimia
Uncertain times, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, can be unsettling for our mental health. We tend to feel anxiety from the fear of contracting the virus, loneliness from isolation due to the lockdown, and worry about the uncertainty of the situations, which results in mental instability.
During these times, the struggle is twice as hard for people suffering from various eating and mental health disorders. How do we effectively manage mental health when most of the triggers are external factors that are out of our control?
What Is Bulimia?
Around the world, there are about 70 million people who are suffering from eating disorders. All ages and sexes are prone to experiencing such conditions, however women are more likely to suffer from an eating disorder by 2.3% than men. Across generations, it is also more likely to occur during the teenage years. Bulimia is a fatal disease if left unaddressed, with around 3.9% mortality rate.
Bulimia is an eating disorder wherein the person has a distorted body image resulting in a series of binge eating and purging. A person with bulimia may see him/herself as excessively fat even though they are underweight in reality. They undergo a binge-eating episode wherein they lose control and eat a massive amount of food. Afterwards, they will feel guilt and shame, and so they purge themselves.
The binge eating and purging cycle can have severe effects on a person’s physical health. The forceful vomiting of purging can damage the mouth, blood vessels, and glands resulting in tooth decay, puffy cheeks, raspy voice, and red eyes. Other effects of excessive purging are acid reflux, stomach pain, dehydration, heart problems, hormonal imbalances, and reproductive health issues.
Also, beyond the detrimental physical effects of bulimia, the person suffers from severe mental and emotional health disturbances. Bulimic patients are also likely to suffer from depression, panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, social phobia, and post-traumatic disorder.
The causes of bulimia are not entirely straightforward. All eating disorders are not just problems with body-weight perception and eating habits. They are rooted in much more profound psychological and emotional issues.
Current studies suggest that bulimia is an interplay of various factors such as genetics, emotional regulation problems, low self-esteem, and social factors like media portrayals of ideal body type and appearances.
Coping Up With Bulimia
Among people who have bulimia, around 55% to 85% go into remission within 90 days of receiving an intervention. However, 14% to 26% of the recoveries go into relapse. A proper assessment that would appropriately address the person’s underlying emotional and psychological problems is essential to avoid this.
Depending on your case, the doctor may opt for hospitalization if your weight is alarmingly low. If not, you may be good with outpatient services. The treatment may be in the form of the following:
- Nutritional Rehabilitation
The goal of this specific kind of treatment is to normalize eating habits and achieve a healthy weight.
- Antipsychotic And Antidepressants Medication
These medications have been proven effective for some in improving the person’s weight and psychological stability. However, the effects of these drugs still vary for every patient, so it is vital to seek professional help for proper prescription.
- Psychosocial Interventions
The most effective as of now is cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). CBT identifies and changes the mental perception associated with the specific eating behaviors. Other psychosocial interventions include family therapy and dialectical behavior therapy.
Apart from these clinical interventions, a study also found a guided self-help approach combined with a group CBT to be effective in bulimic patients. It significantly reduced the frequency of binge-eating, vomiting, and laxative use.
Self-Care Tips For People With Bulimia
While it is essential to follow the recommended treatments of licensed professionals, it is also necessary to take good care of yourself. Listed below are the suggested self-care tips that you should follow.
1. Understand Yourself
First and foremost, you must understand yourself, your triggers, emotions, and behavior. In this way, you will know the root causes of your action and sooner find a way to deal with them. Recognize and accept that there is a problem and try to look at it objectively.
2. Find A Solid Support System
Being surrounded by friends and families who understand your condition is healthy for your mental health. Once you find people whom you are comfortable enough with, open to them about your problems. Not only will it keep you safe in case of your next trigger, but talking to other people could clear your head and untangle those thoughts, too.
3. Avoid Triggers
After identifying your triggers, ake an active decision to reframe your perception around these triggers and stay away from them. Triggers are unique for each person, and it’s crucial to identify your own. For some, social media sites can act as triggers.
With social media, we tend to compare ourselves to unreasonable standards. It is often inevitable to feel pressure and envy towards others. Understand that everyone is different is different and each has their own pace and timing. If you feel like social media is detrimental to your mental health, it will be best to avoid it until you learn how to manage your triggers.
4. Develop A Routine And Discover Your Passion
Keep yourself preoccupied with finding something you like to do. It will help drive your attention away from harmful and self-destructive thoughts. You can try something new such as cooking, baking, painting, sports, or playing an instrument.
Incorporate exercise into your everyday life. It may be something as simple as stretching or Zumba. Anything to keep your blood flowing because it can significantly uplift your mood as well. There are numerous instructional videos on the web that you can follow to keep your body moving.
Indeed, eating disorders are a call to deeper psychological and social problems. Acknowledging and understanding your problem is the first active step you can take to manage your symptoms.