Introduction to Bulimia
The generation of today is clearly more focused on a lot of things – new technology, starting a business, fresh creations, and much more. The Millennials, as they are often called, are more involved with making a mark in this world we live in. Now that is a good thing. However, along with these positive traits and serious obligations that they carry is the notion that they must conform to what society sees as right and appropriate, including their self-image. This is one of the most popular reasons why there is roughly 3% of the population suffering from an eating disorder (and a mental illness) called bulimia nervosa, where people are described as having uncontrollable urges of eating too much, then immediately trying to get rid of what they have consumed by vomiting or taking too many laxatives or diuretics.
The eating disorders in general are linked to dissociation and alternate states of consciousness achieved through food types and binging/fasting/purging activities. — Leslie E. Korn Ph.D., MPH, LMHC, ACS, NTP
Despite the self-confidence and carefree attitude that teens and young adults of today are trying to portray, a large portion of them is struggling with this devastating eating disorder that in truth has potentially dangerous and life-threatening effects on their lives. This article discusses some of the serious problems that bulimia can cause to the different systems of our body.
On the woman’s reproductive system, bulimia nervosa causes hormonal imbalance, which may often lead to a cessation of the menstrual cycle. It also decreases libido, eventually leading to difficulty conceiving. For the pregnant woman who continues to engage in vomiting or taking laxatives or diuretics, she is at risk for premature birth, maternal high blood pressure, diabetes, or stillbirth.
The digestive system can greatly be affected. Constant vomiting or defecating because of taking too many laxatives can damage the esophageal and rectal walls. In more serious cases, both the stomach and the esophagus can be ruptured. When one becomes immune to laxatives, he or she may not be able to move their bowels regularly and this may lead to constipation. Because of these complications, most bulimics often complain of stomachache and heart burns.
Dehydration is another serious issue that bulimics are having problems with. Because they have lost electrolytes through vomiting, it causes the individual’s skin to be dry and his muscles frail. Sodium, magnesium and potassium levels may also be low, and this has dangerous effects on the heart, which may cause weakened heart muscles, hypotension and heart failure.
When looking specifically at anorexia, people who restrict will obviously begin to lose weight, wear baggier clothing to hide it, move their food around on the plate but not eat it, chew food and spit it out. — Lisa Ferentz LCSW-C, DAPA
Physically, the effects of bulimia are seen in the individual’s teeth and gums. The loss of dental enamel due to constant vomiting causes the teeth to become chipped, uneven, and unhealthy. The knuckles of the bulimic are wounded and callused (Russell’s sign) due to self-induced vomiting. There is hair loss and thinning because of malnutrition.
Psychological problems are very common among individuals who suffer from bulimia nervosa. They see themselves as inadequate and feel that they always need to fight for a seat to belong in society. In most cases, eating disorders such as bulimia are associated with depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideations.
Bulimia is Serious
By now, we should have accepted that bulimia nervosa, along with other eating disorders, pose a potential threat to the lives of women and men all over the world. It is something that needs medical and psychological attention. If you know someone who has bulimia, encourage them to get the treatment they need immediately.
Often, we envision a young thin white woman. However, research indicates that people at higher weights—fat people—are at increased risk for eating disorders. — Alexis Conason Psy.D.