Facts on Bulimia
Bulimia nervosa has become a worldwide dilemma that destroys the lives of men, women, adults and teens alike. Individuals with bulimia are caught up in a vicious cycle of too much eating and then depriving themselves of fullness by vomiting or purging. It is considered a life-threatening disease because binge eating and purging – the two hallmarks of bulimia – tremendously damage the physical, mental and emotional health of those suffering from this eating disorder.
The person restricting calories, bingeing, purging, or excessively exercising may become anxious about getting caught or irritable when accusing a loved one of being unfairly suspicious or “controlling.” — Lisa Ferentz LCSW-C, DAPA
Among bulimics, more than half of them have depression and anxiety. Additionally, 30% to 70% are suffering from a certain addiction and 34% are at risk of self-infliction and even suicide, which reportedly is one of the most common causes of death. That is why it is imperative for individuals with bulimia to seek treatment at the early stage of the disease. The challenge is that most of these individuals are hesitant to go forward because of fear and shame of being judged. Nevertheless, it would be helpful to know some pertinent signs and symptoms of this deadly eating disorder. Some of these are:
- Unusually depressed or anxious
- Low self-esteem
- Unhealthy teeth and gums
- Wounds and calluses on the knuckles of the hands
- Eating too much food, and then going to the bathroom after eating
- Dry, cracked skin
- Have mood swings and erratic behaviour patterns
Treating Bulimia Nervosa
There are currently several treatments – natural and medical – that have been utilized to help cure bulimic patients, but the most essential therapies that have shown positive outcomes are nutritional counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy, family therapy, and drug therapy. Let us describe each of these therapies and understand how they work and help bulimic patients recover from bulimia nervosa.
Most in the eating disorder professional community agree that to some extent, nature, and indeed nurture and environment are significant contributors and all together they provide a more well rounded opportunity to figuring out causation. — Judy Scheel Ph.D., L.C.S.W., CEDS
- Nutritional counseling. Medical nutrition therapy is a fundamental part of the treatment of eating disorders. It is aimed at helping patients realize the importance of eating normally and healthily by consistently meeting their nutritional requirements. Doing this slowly trains them to eat right, and then the process of healing the distorted self-image because of food comes next. It is also reinforced by support groups and individualized counseling to help lighten the patients’ struggles during recovery.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It is a type of psychotherapy that is considered to be the treatment of choice for bulimic patients. CBT is focused on helping the patients identify the negative behavioral patterns that they had formed from their bulimia, and then replacing these patterns with positive ones. The process starts with first trying to stop the binge and purging episodes through a reward system. The patients are also asked to monitor their eating schedules and find ways to stop themselves when they feel like vomiting. In several studies, CBT has shown to reduce the symptoms of bulimia by 50%.
- Family Therapy. The Maudsley method was utilized by patients with anorexia and had shown positive outcomes, which is why experts have started to use this on bulimics. A study was performed on 80 bulimic patients who underwent family therapy. After six months, 39% of them were able to stop binging and purging. It was reportedly more effective when tested on adolescent bulimics.
Balancing serotonin levels with nutrition is central to managing the range of symptoms that occur along the eating disorders continuum. — Leslie E. Korn Ph.D., MPH, LMHC, ACS, NTP
- Drug therapy. The most common medications recommended by physicians are the SSRIs, particularly fluoxetine and sertraline. These drugs have shown to tremendously reduce binging and purging urges, especially when combined with cognitive behavioral therapy.
If you want to know more about bulimia and its other forms of therapy, you can visit BetterHelp and see about the assistance they provide with their pool of online therapists ready to help. If you’re interested in other similar services, you might look into Talkspace, 7cups, and others for this type of support via the internet.