Causes and signs of bulimia. Approach to the treatment. Prescription

Causes and signs of bulimia. Approach to the treatment. Prescription

Bulimia is a serious, potentially life-threatening eating disorder. People suffering from bulimia can covertly overeat (to eat plenty of food losing control over its quantity) and then try to get rid of redundant calories in an unhealthy way.

People suffering from bulimia can use various methods to get rid of calories and to prevent a weight gain. For example, they can regularly induce vomiting or misuse purgatives, diet additives, diuretics or enemas after they overeat. Or they can use other ways to get rid of calories and to prevent a weight gain, such as fasting, restricted diet or excessive physical activity.

If you suffer from bulimia, you may be worried about your weight and body shape. You can be sharp upon yourself for your weaknesses, but, as this condition is related with your self-esteem, not only with food, bulimia may be difficult to overcome. However, an effective treatment can help to feel yourself better, embrace more healthy meal patterns and eliminate serious complications.

Severity of bulimia is determined by the number of times per week you “clear yourself” this way. On average, at least one time a week within at least three months.

If you think that your beloved person has bulimia symptoms, discuss your concerns straightforwardly and honestly. You cannot make someone else to seek professional assistance, but can offer your understanding and support. You can also help him or her to find a qualified doctor or a mental health specialist, to book an appointment.

As most people with bulimia usually have normal weight or slight overweight, for others it may be not obvious that something is wrong. Red flags that relatives and friends can notice:

The exact cause of bulimia is unknown. Many factors can play a role in the development of eating disorders, including genetic, biologic ones, emotional health, public pressure, etc.

Girls and women suffer from bulimia more often then boys and men. Bulimia often begins in late adolescence or in early adulthood.

  • Biology. People with first-degree relatives (siblings, parents or children) with eating disorders can be more prone to the development of an eating disorder that presupposes a possible genetic linkage. Overweight in childhood or in adolescence may increase the risk.
  • Psychological and emotional problems. Psychological and emotional problems, such as depression, anxiety disorders, or disorders due to psychoactive substance abuse are closely connected with eating disorders. People with bulimia may take themselves negatively. In certain cases, traumatic events and stress can be contributing factors.
  • Keenness on diets People that keep diet take higher risks of the development of eating disorders. Many people suffering from bulimia strictly limit calories between the overeating episodes, which may cause the desire to have a snack again, then clean themselves. Other possible causes of overeating are stress, low self-esteem and monotony.

Bulimia can cause numerous severe and life-threatening complications. Possible complications include:

There is no reliable way to prevent bulimia, however, you can show somebody the way towards healthier behavior or professional treatment before the situation gets worse. How you can help:

  • Nurture and invigorate healthy body awareness in your children independently of their size and shape. Help them gain confidence not only in their appearance.
  • Eat balanced dishes in the family circle regularly.
  • Try not to talk about weight at home. Focus on the healthy lifestyle instead.
  • Do not encourage diet, especially if it is connected with an unhealthy behavior, such as abstinence from food, taking of additives or purgatives to lose weight or provoke vomiting.
  • Talk to your consulting physician. He/she will help you to determine early signs of eating disorders and to help in prevention of their development.
  • If you have noticed that your relative or friend has eating problems that may cause an eating disorder, consider the possibility to talk to the person about these problems and ask how you can help.

Your consulting physician may also offer you to undergo additional tests that will help to determine the precise diagnosis, to exclude medical causes of weight change and to reveal complications.

In case of bulimia, several types of treatment may be needed, although a combination of psychotherapy with antidepressants may be the most effective way to cope up with the disorder.

The treatment usually includes a multidisciplinary approach that involves you, your family, your consulting physician, mental health specialist and nutritionist experienced in treatment of eating disorders.

Psychotherapy, also known as talking therapy or counseling, includes the discussion of your bulimia and related problems with a psychiatrist. The facts tell that all these types of psychotherapy help to improve the condition in case of bulimia:

  • cognitive behavioral therapy helps to normalize dietary habits, detect unhealthy, toxic beliefs and replace them with healthy and positive ones;
  • family therapy helps parents to participate in the treatment to stop unhealthy eating behavior of an adolescent, to help him/her to regain control over the diet, and helps the family to cope up with the problems that bulimia may cause;
  • interpersonal psychotherapy that clears up difficulties in relationships with the beloved ones, helps to improve social skills and to resolve problems.

Ask your mental health specialist which psychotherapy he/she will be using and what data show that it is effective for the treatment of bulimia.

Antidepressants may help to decrease the symptoms of bulimia when used together with psychotherapy. The only antidepressant with proven efficiency for the treatment of bulimia is fluoxetine (a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) that can help in combating bulimia, even if you do not have depression.

Nutritionists develop the meal plan that will help to form healthy habits in order to avoid feeling hungry and fixation on overeating and provide good nutrition. Regular diet and absence of restrictions in eating is very important to cope up with bulimia.

Bulimia is usually treated on an outpatient basis. However, in case of severe symptoms and serious complications, it may require admission to hospital.

If you enter an overeating cycle again, additional sessions with your consulting physician, nutritionist or mental health specialist may help to pass through a crisis before the eating disorder will get beyond control again. Learning of positive coping strategies, creation of healthy relationship and stress management can help in prevention of a recurrence.

If you have a history of eating disorders and you have noticed that your symptoms return, seek medical assistance immediately.

You can book an appointment with a specialist on our website, discuss the issues of bulimia and get the detailed information on the tactics.

Article writer - Ruslan Buyanovskiy, M.D.

Publication date: 09.07.2020

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