Eating disorders are commonly identified as psychological conditions determined through the patients’ abnormal eating behavior. They affect all social classes and ages. The conditions are usually caused by severely worrying about weight gain or by having an unattractive body shape. Even celebrities are not safe from this condition. There have been reports of some known personalities including American singer Demi Lovato who are suffering from an eating disorder.
Eating disorders are manageable but should be addressed immediately as their consequences are life-threatening. Treatments vary depending on the type of eating disorder that the person is struggling with. Among the common types of these illnesses are binge eating and anorexia nervosa. Another type that is also affecting many people nowadays is the bulimia nervosa.
Patients with bulimia nervosa exhibit a compulsive eating behavior. Unlike those with anorexia nervosa wherein a patient restricts or limits one’s food intake, people who are diagnosed with bulimia nervosa eat a great volume of food in a short span of time and in most cases will secretly purge afterward to prevent themselves from gaining weight. Purging may be seen in various forms such as excessive diuretic or laxative use, prolonged exercise or forced vomiting. The eagerness to purge one’s food intake was due to their desire to control oneself and cope with a challenging situation or circumstance they are currently in.
It is important to be more aware of how this eating disorder affects patients. Here are some important details that can help you learn more about bulimia nervosa. Topics included are its causes, symptoms, and treatments.
Two Types of Bulimia
Patients with this psychological condition are categorized into two types; those who purge and those who don’t purge. As mentioned, those who purge usually abuse enemas and laxatives or they induce vomiting after eating lots of food. On the other hand, those who don’t purge, burn out themselves through excessive fasting or exercising after bingeing.
What Are the Common Causes of Bulimia?
Like the other forms of eating disorders, bulimia nervosa can be genetically predisposed or can be due to cultural, environmental and psychological factors. Research found that the patients’ regular eating behavior can be triggered by stressful changes in life, childhood trauma or abuse. Having low self-esteem as well as the cultural perception that one’s beauty lies on a person’s weight also contribute to the development of bulimia nervosa.
Signs and Symptoms of Bulimia Nervosa
Aside from assessing the body mass index, medical professionals also look at the eating habits of patients to confirm if they are suffering from this condition. Signs and symptoms are also being observed by medical professionals. Among the most common indications of bulimia nervosa are constant changes in the weight of the patient, imbalances in their electrolyte level, oral lacerations as well as chronic dehydration. Infertility, enlarged neck and jawline glands, broken eye blood vessels as well as the occurrence of peptic ulcers are also among the other symptoms to watch out. Above all, it is important to observe any purging signs to easily detect patients who are suffering from bulimia nervosa. Signs include frequent bathroom visits after eating and constant switch in overeating and fasting behavior.
Statistics on Bulimia Nervosa
Many people suffer from this eating disorder in silence. Recent studies show that mood disorder is found to be a comorbid illness in almost 50 percent of American patients who are diagnosed with bulimia nervosa. The other half of the population was detected to also suffer from anxiety disorders. Meanwhile, alcohol use and other substance abuse disorders are detected in 10 percent of bulimia nervosa patients.
When it comes to mortality rates, research found 3.9 percent of bulimic patients to be at risk of dying from this eating disorder. The sad truth is that only six percent of American people with this condition seek help from medical professionals.
Different Effective Treatments for Bulimia Nervosa
When untreated, bulimia nervosa has life-threatening consequences. In order to save patients who are diagnosed with this psychological condition, there are several effective treatments that medical professionals would recommend. The first line of treatment focuses on breaking the harmful binge-purge cycle. This treatment option will need the involvement of family members and other loved ones who spend most of the time with the patient. They will need to closely watch and intervene when purging is about to occur.
The second stage of treatment is to work on the negative outlook of the patient. This will involve regular consultations with a psychiatrist to assess the real cause of the eating disorder. The method is also expected to determine and alter the irrational outlook of the patient on dieting, body weight as well as body shape.
The last stage of treatment will concentrate on addressing the emotional challenges that are being faced by the patient. This can be done through several therapies such as dialectic behavior therapy as well as cognitive behavior therapy.
Alternative Treatments for Bulimia Nervosa
Although psychological therapies and eating pattern changes are necessary to treat people with bulimia nervosa, patients can also try alternative treatments to help them recover from this condition. Among the recommended treatments are antidepressants. When paired with psychotherapy, antidepressants will effectively work to lessen the symptoms that patients experience.
Undergoing nutrition sessions will also boost the recovery of patients. To ensure safe treatment from this disorder, it is important that patients seek help from dietitians so they can have a healthy eating plan to follow to ensure that they have the nutrients that they need during the treatment course. Implementing a healthy eating plan is also essential to prevent patients from having cravings that could trigger binge eating.
Regular follow-ups from primary care physicians and psychiatrists are necessary to prevent its recurrence. As this psychological condition can be easily triggered by stresses around us, it is possible that the eating disorder recur. To prevent this from happening, patients are advised to immediately seek help if they observe any small signs of the disorder recurring.