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%.
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.
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.