Bulimia is an Eating Disorder that requires Cognitive Therapy
Eating disorders such as Bulimia Nervosa are extremely serious and without medical help, therapy and possibly intervention can be life threatening. Bulimia is much more common among women than men but that's not to say they aren't affected by this serious eating disorder also.
Define Bulimia Nervosa
Bulimia Nervosa is generally referred to as bulimia but at one time, was referred to as bulimarexia. Usually a person suffering from bulimia eats a good amount of food in a short period of time which is also called ‘binging'. When done, the person purges or throws-up to prevent weight gain. Some people suffering from this eating disorder also resort to fasting instead of purging all the time. After pro-longed purging, many people suffering from bulimia nervosa throw up automatically without even trying to. Purging becomes an automatic response when eating. This is extremely serious and dangerous.
Some bulimics don't eat large amounts of food at a time just small amounts but shortly after, they cause themselves to throw up in order to prevent weight gain. So while some eat a large meal or consume large amounts of food at a time then purge, others may only eat one cookie and then feel the need to throw up. Another way that is common to prevent weight gain is by taking laxatives. Bulimics feel if they speed up the process of food moving throughout the body and speed up the bowel movement process, this will help to prevent weight gain. Abusing laxatives in reality only makes things worse for the bulimic and can lead to other major health problems.
People suffering from eating disorders like bulimia may exercise all the time, eat very small amounts of food, may not eat at all or take pills (water pills) in hopes of preventing any kind of weight gain. They feel out of control when it comes to the amount of food they eat. Many bulimics are of normal weight for their age so they don't necessarily look the same as individuals suffering from anorexia who are generally very thin and frail. Bulimics and Anorexics share the same fears and feel the same way about them-selves though. No matter what size they are they see their self as overweight, fat and many times ugly.
What do Bulimics Fear?
They are totally unhappy with their body shape and size. They see themselves as fat no matter what they look like or how much they weigh. They are deeply scared of gaining any kind of weight; one pound is devastating to them. They are consumed with their weight and how they look. They also fear that family and friends will find out what they're doing to themselves so they're very secretive about their eating disorder. Most bulimics are sad, depressed and lonely inside.
This video helps you see Bulimia Nervosa through the eyes of an individual dealing with this disorder. The sad thing is that this young woman can't see that she is absolutely beautiful just the way she is.
Can this happen to anyone?
Most people think that bulimia and other eating disorders only affects upper-class young white females. This isn't true, it does affect women more often than men though, and around 85 to 90 percent of those suffering from eating disorders are women. This serious eating disorder can affect anyone, males, women of color and even older women. Bulimia nervosa is more common in adolescent girls and young women.
How does Bulimia start?
There are many reasons a person develops an eating disorder. Food is not the only problem a person has when developing a serious and dangerous eating disorder like bulimia. Many different factors can trigger this in a person. Some of these factors include: Dieting, stress, emotional discomfort like sadness and anger can trigger eating disorders. There is not a main cause for bulimia or any other eating disorder but there are factors that play a big role in developing one of them.
In the United States women are expected to look a certain way in order to be accepted. We see thin and flawless images everywhere of beautiful women and it makes most women feel bad about their own bodies. Men and women alike are treated differently in our society if you're overweight or if you look different. Being treated different at school, work or by family and friends is reason enough for some people to develop eating disorders. If someone in your family such as a mother, father or sibling is bulimic or suffers from an eating disorder, there is a good chance you could too. Parents or family members who diet all the time or criticize their children's bodies are much more likely to have their child develop an eating disorder like bulimia.
Sometimes stressful and traumatic situations take place in a person's life and this can trigger bulimia also. Stressful situations like going into a new profession or starting a new job can lead to eating disorders. Sometimes something as traumatic and horrible as rape can lead an individual towards eating disorders. If an individual is suffering from this very serious bulimic eating disorder many times they will do whatever they have to in order to prevent weight gain. Some signs of Bulimia Nervosa are:
- Eating large amounts of food in a short period of time
- Finding diet pills, laxatives and water pills hidden or lying around.
- They go to the bathroom all the time and especially after eating.
- Compulsive exercising no matter what the conditions are (bad weather, sick, tired or hurt).
- Cheeks may be swollen due to purging.
- Fingers or knuckles may be scratched or swollen if they use their fingers to induce vomiting.
- The blood vessels in their eyes may be broken due to pressure when vomiting.
- Many have tooth damage or discoloration and throat irritation from acid when purging.
- Hormones may become imbalanced and a women's period may become irregular and sometimes, their period will stop altogether.
Bulimia and Pregnancy
If a woman is actively bulimic when pregnant, serious and dangerous affects to her and the unborn child may result. Some of the seriously dangerous affects include:
- Mother will have high blood pressure
- The baby may not be born alive
- During labor, the baby's bottom or feet may attempt to come out first
- C-section birth
- Baby may be born early
- Low birth weight
- Baby may be born with possible blindness, mental retardation or other birth defects
- Mother may develop diabetes during the pregnancy
If taking laxatives or diuretics while pregnant birth defects can occur due to loss of nutrients and fluids which the baby needs for nourishment.
Treatment for Bulimia Nervosa
There is help for eating disorders, but it's not a quick fix. It's important to make sure the individual's health is ok first. A medical checkup is important to make sure no medical complications have occurred. Sometimes a physician will prescribe medication for depression like fluoxetine (Prozac) if necessary. Many times antidepressants and professional therapy helps the individual not to relapse while changing their emotional and physical behaviors.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
This type of therapy is necessary for the individual who is suffering from eating disorders such as bulimia because negative behaviors and thoughts need to be modified. A therapeutic approach is necessary to help the individual change the way they see themselves in a positive healthy way. This can't be done without professional help. There are reasons why a person develops an eating disorder and these reasons need to be dealt with.
Many times this type of therapy is essential for the individual because it's important for them to understand that they're not alone. Group therapy isn't right for everyone, but many individuals find it helpful to talk to others that can relate to what they're going through.
Sometimes this is a better approach for someone who doesn't do well in group settings. Many times people do better and are much more able to open up during one-on-one sessions with a therapist.
This is just as important as behavioral therapy. It's important that the person dealing with bulimia change the way they feel about themselves and equally important that they change the way they feel about food. We have to eat and nourish our bodies on a daily basis in order to live a healthy life and up till now, the bulimic sees food in a negative way. They binge-eat and throw up or hardly eat at all. They will learn that food is not the enemy, their negative thinking is. Without professional help, bulimia nervosa is extremely dangerous and harmful to your body. If gone untreated, bulimia can lead to anorexia, substance abuse, electrolyte imbalance, ruptured esophagus, gastric rupture, pancreatitis, heart attack and death. Don't let this happen to you, please get help and never stop fighting!