Living With Bulimia Nervosa: Symptoms, Causes, And Effective Treatments!

We can never stress enough over the fact that diet plays an important part in your daily life. 

Food, not only, is important for the overall development of our health but also acts as a source of energy for the working of our body. And therefore have you wondered how life-threatening an eating disorder can be for a person? 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 11% of the world population gets affected by eating disorders every year which is not only surprising but also extremely disheartening. 

Another shocking observation that has been observed from the statistics was that most eating disorders stemmed from society’s perceived notions of beauty standards. 

What is bulimia nervosa you ask? What can be the effective bulimia treatment? And if you are wondering how to overcome the ailment in general, continue reading the article as we share with you all the details. 

Through this article, we are going to talk about one such eating disorder known as bulimia nervosa which is a serious eating disorder that often has the fatality of the affected. 

What is bulimia nervosa?

According to medical terms, bulimia nervosa, or as commonly known as bulimia is a life-threatening and serious eating disorder. In this condition, people affected secretly binge i.e., they eat large amounts of food by losing control overeating and then they try to purge by getting rid of the extra calories in an unhealthy way. 

Some methods which are used to get rid of the extra calories are 

  1. self-inducing vomiting
  2. using weight-loss supplements, diuretics, or enemas
  3. methods like fasting, excessive exercising, or strict dieting are also often employed 

People affected with bulimia nervosa always remain preoccupied with their body weight and shape. They judge themselves severely and harshly for their self-perceived flaws and often take some extreme methods to get rid of the extra calories which always leads to severe health damage. 

Also, it is important to mention that people often tend to confuse between anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. 

Both conditions may be eating disorders but there are some key differences between these two medical conditions. People affected with anorexia tend to skip meals, adopt highly restrictive diets and obsess over thinness and food. On the other hand, people affected with bulimia present themselves in the form of bingeing or overeating followed by purging periods which include vomiting or by using laxatives. 

Also read: All You Need to Know About Binge Eating Disorders

Symptoms of bulimia nervosa

Most people often do not recognize the symptoms of bulimia nervosa but listed down below are some of the common symptoms observed in people affected with bulimia. 

This list will also help you to recognize the condition of bulimia in your loved ones if they are suffering and failing to understand. 

  1. Being preoccupied with body weight and shape. 
  2. Having distorted or excessively negative body image
  3. Always living in the fear of gaining weight.
  4. Recurrent occurrences of binge eating large amounts of food
  5. Losing control overeating
  6. Not wanting to eat in public
  7. Trying extreme methods to get rid of the extra calories after bingeing. 
  8. Following harsh methods in purging. 

Causes of bulimia nervosa

Causes of the eating disorder are not known but through research and studies, various risk factors have been recognized to play a significant role in the affected.

  1. People who have close relatives being affected by eating disorders are at a higher risk than others to develop bulimia nervosa. 
  2. Psychological and emotional issues like depression, anxiety, or substance abuse often increase the risk of the condition. 
  3. As mentioned earlier, societal expectations play a huge factor in eating disorders and bulimia nervosa is no expectation. The pressure to meet society’s beauty standards is the root cause of bulimia. 
  4. Girls and women have a higher risk of developing bulimia than boys and men. 
  5. People who follow strict diets are at higher risk of getting affected with bulimia nervosa

Also read: Last Chance Diet – Epitome of toxic Diet Culture

What complications can bulimia nervosa lead to?

Bulimia is a life-threatening condition and has often led to fatality of the affected. Some of the possible complications that are caused due to bulimia are:

  1. Negative self-esteem and development of personality or bipolar disorders. 
  2. Problems with relationships and social functioning
  3. Dehydration leading to medical conditions like kidney failure
  4. Chronic heart ailments and dentistry problems
  5. Irregular menstrual cycle in females
  6. Alcohol or drug abuse

What are the treatments for bulimia nervosa? 

A person affected with bulimia needs several types of treatments and the main focus remains on psychological treatments. 

The severity of bulimia is determined by the number of times the affected purges and the treatments are decided accordingly. 

  1. Cognitive-behavioral therapy to normalize eating patterns and to change unhealthy, negative feeding behaviors and beliefs with positive and healthy ones. 
  2. Family-based treatments to educate parents or close ones to keep an eye on the eating pattern of the affected and also help them to achieve a sense of moral support. 
  3. Antidepressants help in ameliorating the symptoms of bulimia when used alongside psychotherapies. Fluoxetine is one of the approved antidepressant addresses for people affected with bulimia. 
  4. The main goal of treating bulimia nervosa is to control negative food habits and not restrict food intake, therefore dieticians or nutritionists can develop personalized eating plans to foster healthy eating habits. 

Also read: Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy For You?

Apart from the above-mentioned therapies, self-care is extremely important to prevent frequent occurrences of bulimia episodes. 

  1. Look after your body. Do not restrict your food intake. Consult with your doctor and try to follow a healthy lifestyle. 
  2. Connect with people who are close to you. Talk to them about the problems you are facing. If you are not comfortable talking about your eating disorder with your family or friends, you can join groups where people have suffered from similar conditions. 
  3. Avoid triggers. Stay away from social media images that are unrealistic for you. 

Bulimia is a serious eating disorder that is extremely difficult to get completely cured of. Even after proper medications and treatments, most of the time, it has been noticed that the affected had frequent episodes of getting into the cycle of bingeing and purging. 

It can be a lifelong challenge to control the condition, however, with continuous medications and therapies, the condition can also be ameliorated. The earlier the condition is detected, the more effective the treatments can cure the condition. 

Our psychology also plays a very important role in treatment. Try to inculcate healthy food habits and look for the bright side in the situation. We know it is extremely difficult in such a strenuous situation but little things like this goes a long way. Also, if you notice any of your loved ones suffering from bulimia, offer them support and love because that is what the affected needs the most at this point. 

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