Bulimia Help & Treatment

Bulimia is a chronic eating disorder that stems from an abnormal compulsion with maintaining a certain weight without the ability or inclination to diet and exercise normally. It is normally characterised by periods of binge eating followed by extreme efforts to lose weight.

Bulimia sufferers normally fall into two types. Purging is the more well-known form of bulimia, where a person binge eats and then purges themselves of food intake using laxatives or inducing vomiting. Non-purging is also a common form of bulimia, where after binge eating, the sufferer engages in periods of fasting or extreme exercise to compensate for their food intake.

Eating disorders such as bulimia are not solely vain or self-obsessed, nor do they reflect ignorance or laziness towards food. They are a serious illness and can often coincide with various psychological issues such as low self-worth, trauma, PTSD, or other mental issues.

Am I Bulimic?

Realising when you may be within the stages of on eating disorder like bulimia isn’t always obvious, but warning signals do exist to help determine whether bulimic eating patterns have taken hold over your daily lifestyle.

If food and weight control become a constant point of focus throughout the day and you are plagued by sensations of fear or shame over your self-image, weight, or eating habits, then bulimia may be already in progress.

Trying to keep your eating habits a secret is a tell-tale sign that it’s time to find help, and seeking therapeutic assistance from a well-qualified specialist can offer a sturdy foundation for making profound and lasting changes.

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Who is Affected by Bulimia?

When someone suffers from low self-esteem or an inability to cope with feelings in a healthy and productive way, they may turn to bulimia as a way of expressing their inner anxieties. This eating disorder is strongly connected to psychological and mental health problems and can result in binge eating and purging that can take a toll on the body and its natural digestive processes over time.

If emotional instability or a negative self-image dominates the thinking patterns of the victim, obsessing over food intake and shifting to bulimic eating habits might seem like one of the only ways to address these underlying issues.

SYMPTOMS OF BULIMIA

Symptoms of Bulimia

Do you know someone who is worrying you by exhibiting possible signs of bulimia? Try asking yourself the following questions.

  • Do they seem to be a normal weight despite strange eating habits? Most bulimics aren’t underweight – this is more common in anorexia.
  • Do they frequently go to the bathroom immediately after a meal or after consuming any substantial amount of food?
  • Is food inexplicably disappearing from the kitchen or larder?
  • Are they exhibiting other physical symptoms? These can include facial puffiness, reddened eyes, sore throat, swollen glands, tooth decay, and heartburn.

How Can We Help?

One of the first positive steps someone suffering from bulimia can take is to call a hotline aimed at providing such assistance. Being able to talk to someone who understands what you’re going through may provide an outlet to release much of the underlying anxieties and causes of stress that can lead to bulimia.

Look for areas of support (whether from a hotline or friends and family) with whom you can share your thoughts and feelings.

Reasons Behind Bulimia

For those unaffected by bulimia, it can be difficult to understand why this eating disorder affects people in the first place. Eating disorders tend to manifest when deeply-rooted emotions or a strong negative self-image leads to disgust and self-loathing that only finds its release through irregular eating habits like binging and purging.

These emotions can begin in childhood or early adulthood and be driven by a fear of gaining additional weight or a strong desire to lose more.

Complications of Bulimia Nervosa

The impact of bulimia upon the natural workings of the body can be felt both in the short-term and in the long-term. These effects can prove to be disastrous if not treated or corrected.

  • The short-term effects of bulimia are wide-ranging and can include a persistent lack of energy, irregular heart rhythms, dehydration, and digestive inconsistencies. These are only a few of the many possible short-term effects.
  • Long-term effects of bulimia can have serious consequences that can include weak or brittle bones and a substantially increased risk of chronic illnesses like diabetes or heart disease.

Diagnosing Bulimia

While vomiting is typically associated with those suffering from bulimia, it is not a necessity for the condition to still be present. Repeatedly eating excessively large amounts and then taking severe measures to compensate for these actions (whether through vomiting, laxatives, or otherwise) are the trademark signs normally associated with bulimia.

It’s important to recognize that many of the problems that lead to bulimia are psychological in nature and that as much as 50 to 80% of the risk factors involved are genetic.[1]

treatment bulimia

Treatment Options

A hopeful study from the Massachusetts General Hospital discovered that two-thirds of those experiencing an eating disorder recovered after two decades prior to seeking treatment.[2] Finding the right treatment programme and staying committed is a great way to find guidance when confronted with a condition like bulimia. The different types of available programmes may include:

  • Begin by speaking with your doctor to get an expert opinion about where you are and what should happen next
  • Many online self-help programmes exist to give you support and encouragement at your own pace, so look into these
  • Several forms of talking treatments exist such as cognitive behavioural therapy for eating disorders (CBT-ED) to help focus on stressful emotions with a qualified therapist, or family therapy sessions to develop a strong support system when times get rough
  • Medications such as antidepressants can help mitigate some of the underlying factors of bulimia (like depression), or antipsychotics can help treat conditions such as bipolar
  • If therapy sessions seem like an attractive option, admission to a clinic can be a good way to go, with outpatient options for maintaining a relatively conventional lifestyle or inpatient programmes for intensive and focused care
  • Many options exist for using non-invasive brain stimulation techniques that could make use of technology such as magnetic fields or electrical currents

What Does Inpatient Treatment For Bulimia Look Like?

Those who decide to take the inpatient approach for dealing with bulimia should expect a supportive and positive environment in which true healing can take place. This can involve group therapy sessions, one-on-one discussion with a qualified counsellor, and an overall supportive environment for rehabilitation.

Given the fact that without treatment up to 20% of people with serious eating disorders die, an inpatient program may make the most sense for dedicated and urgent care.

The Importance of Medical and Psychiatric Stabilisation

True recovery from bulimia cannot begin until the stabilisation process occurs. This provides a strong psychological and behavioural basis from which progress can spring forth.

Finding a proper diet to achieve normal weight and assessing the patient’s mental and emotional state are some common themes often associated with the medical and psychiatric stabilisation process. From here, medication may be prescribed or a treatment regimen could be recommended.

Steps to Recovery From Bulimia

Admitting that there is a problem in the first place and finding someone to confide in is some of the first steps toward a healthier way of life. It’s also important to stay away from people, places, and activities that trigger a state of mind that can bring about bulimic eating patterns.

Therapy for Bulimia

Therapy for bulimia can come in different forms or options depending on the stage in which the eating disorder has progressed and how the individual will respond. An overview of many available options is as follows:

If other types and strategies of therapy fail, it isn't uncommon to turn to focal psychodynamic therapy (FPT) for help. This type of therapy will provide an assessment of eating habits as well as a deeper understanding of the patient's emotions toward themselves and others in their life.

CBT or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is typically the go-to option for treating bulimia. The goal is to help the patient focus on their thinking patterns and make progress toward healthier ways of thinking and living.

Understanding how to better interact with the people closest to the patient can be a great way to address situations and causes that lead to bulimia. Family therapy sessions can also provide a unique opportunity to learn and grow in a way that matters most to the patient

Sharing your experiences with like-minded peers who understand what you're going through can be one of the most powerful routes toward a healthy transformation.
Group therapy sessions can facilitate this sort of dialogue.

Cognitive Analytic Therapy, or"CAT" is a form of treatment that seeks to draw a connection and understanding between emotional states, patterns of thought, and bulimic eating patterns.

For a treatment programme that focuses intently upon solving symptomatic issues and dealing with interpersonal problems,
IPT or "interpersonal psychotherapy" may be the right way to go. Techniques could involve examining eating habits and delving into past life and relationship issues

Medication for Treating Bulimia

A wide assortment of medical options exists for treating both the symptoms and underlying causes of bulimia. Of these include reuptake inhibitors such as Zoloft, Lexapro, and Prozac, as well as antidepressants like Wellbutrin or medications intended to address weight and seizures (if these are an issue),

Due to the fact that weight is such a core issue in regard to bulimia, it pays dividends to better understand nutrition and how it can be applied to the patient’s life. These strategies can include a comprehensive meal-planning regimen, sticking to healthy eating patterns (such as three meals a day), or correcting problems that lead to binging and excessive dieting.

Maintaining a positive outlook and believing that you can overcome this condition are sound strategies for building a successful foundation. A key part of this process may involve having a support network you can lean on for when things don’t go according to plan.

Knowing where to turn for help and advice can do wonders to deal with bulimia in a whole new way, and incorporating talking therapy sessions or treatment programmes into this approach can be a smart way to go.

Guided Help For Adults With Bulimia

Many resources and books exist to take you through a systematic approach for taking control of your health. These guided help programmes may help you set realistic plans, monitor what you eat, and learn more about connections between behaviours, emotions, and eating.

Having more tools at your disposal will leave you better prepared to deal with feelings and find better ways of coping with situations and deep-seated emotions,

How to Talk to Your Doctor

It’s important to always be open and honest with your doctor to ensure that they are able to get you the best possible help and diagnose your condition properly. It also pays to be aware of any factors that can contribute to added risk, like pregnancy or a family history of heart disease.

Your doctor can help you to confront any of these concerns, and that’s why it’s always good to maintain close communication throughout the entire recovery process.

Helping Someone With Bulimia?

If you believe someone you know might be suffering from bulimia, don’t be afraid to consider speaking with them or a certified professional (such as a counsellor) to get more help. Always approach the issue in a polite way, and be mindful of the victim’s thoughts and emotions at all times.

You could make the difference in finding them the help they need and leading them toward a better, more rewarding life.

What’s the Outlook for People With Bulimia?

With the right help and strategy in place, bulimia doesn’t have to be a hopeless condition. It begins with recognizing that a problem exists and being motivated enough to do something to change it.

Many options exist for helping to foster this kind of change, and knowing where to turn can make a huge difference between success and failure. Building new habits and activities into your daily lifestyle may not seem easy at first, but it can bring about brand new joys and happiness in the victim’s life that can help them to forget that bulimia ever even happened.

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