Bulimia Nervosa is an eating disorder brought about by society’s huge pressure on people to look good. What society has failed to do is explain that looking good could also be done by living a healthy lifestyle. This has affected some people psychologically that more often than not, they undergo shortcuts just to maintain a slim-body figure.
People who suffer from bulimia spend most of their time thinking about how to keep an ideal body image and weight. Symptoms of bulimia are similar to those suffering from anorexia nervosa. However, it is harder to detect people who suffer from bulimia because they show no outward symptoms like thin figures. People who suffer from bulimia, in fact, have a good physique and show no obvious eating or health disorders.
One of the major signs that a person might be suffering from bulimia are episodes of binge eating. This, however, is not easily visible and as most patients binge in secret. Changes in eating habits are mainly due to a person’s psychological condition. Feelings of guilt, shame, depression or self-contempt characterize the emotional state of the patient. This in turn forces a person to indulge in episodes of binge eating followed by vomiting in an ever-unconscious effort to maintain that ideal appearance. Here are some indications of bulimia nervosa:
- Going to the bathroom during meals.
- Preoccupation with body image and weight.
- Weight usually is within the normal range, but there are some who could be overweight or underweight. However, the weight is not constant.
- Self-induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives, diuretics, or other medications, and over-exercising as a compensatory behavior.
- Depressed or anxious.
- Foul-smelling breath.
- Using substances such as alcohol or stimulants.
- Dental cavities, and ragged or chipped teeth because the enamel of the tooth is destroyed due to the recurrent vomiting.
- Irregular menstruation.
- Constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain.
Factors that cause Bulimia
There are no definite reasons or factors which cause bulimia. Some studies suggest that this medical condition maybe genetic because incidents of bulimia increase with patients whose family members also suffer from this medical condition. Pressure from society and the huge value it places in outward appearance is believed to be the main cause for people suffering from bulimia.
This pressure affects the patient’s psychology that looking good is confused with feeling good. Depression, substance abuse, self-mutilation, and obsessive-compulsive behavior are also factors which may cause bulimia. Athletes and those in the Entertainment Community also have a greater risk of acquiring this eating disorder.
Management and Treatment
People suffering from bulimia may suffer for years from this eating disorder before being detected. This has been a part of their lives for so long that they find themselves in denial that they are suffering from this medical condition. Like any type of psychological condition the first step of treatment is to help the patient realize that he is suffering from an eating disorder. Psychotherapy and consultation with a dietitian are the next steps in medical treatment.
Psychotherapy, family therapy and medications are the major types of treatments open for people suffering from bulimia nervosa. The most effective treatments are often those involving a combination of psychotherapy and medications. Winning the patients trust is, however, the first step in any type of treatment.
Doctors may prescribe antidepressants; symptoms of bulimia are similar to anorexic patients where depression is one of the main symptoms of the eating disorder. Medications, however, must be closely supervised as they could lead to addiction or even suicides.
This type of treatment involves behavior conditioning and replacing unhealthy habits. This helps the patient gain a more positive outlook and improves self-esteem.
Doctors, psychologists and dietitians often work with each other in restoring the patient into full health. The major complication of bulimia are poor nourishment because of a poor diet. Patients are likely to have vitamin and mineral deficiencies which result in poor judgment or memory gaps.
Patients suffering from bulimia require continuous care because relapses of the eating disorder may cause major complications which pose a serious threat to the individual. Medications are often prescribed for treatment, but continuous monitoring is required as these medications have serious side effects. For patients who have a long history, scheduled visits and follow ups with their local physician are needed to monitor the patients progress.
Written by Ronald Uy RN
Bulimia Nervosa. Retrieved November 9, 2009 from Bupa: http://hcd2.bupa.co.uk
Bulimia Nervosa. Retrieved November 9, 2009 from HELPGUIDE.org: http://helpguide.org
© H.I.C 2009