Bulimia Nervosa is a serious eating disorder and mental illness where a person will binge on food and then purge in order to avoid gaining weight. Some patients will also try intermittent fasting or excessive exercise regimens.
While the cause of bulimia is unknown, external stressors and a person’s family history can play a part in the development of this disorder. Men can suffer from this disorder however, it mainly affects women and teenage girls. The disorder can also contribute to the development of serious illnesses, such as heart disease, kidney disease, gum disease, osteoporosis, etc. in derived from malnutrition. If not taken care of, bulimia can even cause death.
Those with the disorder may take lots of diet pills, laxatives, or diuretics. Compulsive behavior such as extreme dieting plans and calorie counting are also signs of bulimia. Other symptoms include but aren’t limited to, self-harm, bad breath, anxiety, fatigue, dehydration, irregular menstruation, infertility, inflamed esophagus, fluctuating weight, depression, mood swings, and heartburn.
People affected by this disorder can experience more serious symptoms which are secondary to the damage caused by the lack of proper nutrients and vary according to the stage and condition.
The exact underlying cause of bulimia nervosa is not fully understood or known. However, like other eating disorders, a myriad of factors contribute to an individual’s development of bulimia nervosa. Some of these factors are genetic; others are environmental and situational. Psychological and cultural influences contribute to an individual’s likelihood to develop bulimia nervosa. The onset of a stressful life phase or transition trigger someone who is already predisposed to bulimia nervosa to develop the eating disorder. Abuse or trauma – psychological harm or damage – may cause an individual to develop the disorder. Additionally, poor self-esteem or body dysmorphia may also lead an individual to develop bulimia.
Generally, young women – particularly during adolescence – are the demographic in which bulimia is most frequently observed. These women usually have a relative who has dealt with or suffered from an eating disorder. Additionally, there is often a hereditary component related to mental health or anxiety – there may be a family history of mental illness, for example. Recent studies show that a deficit of serotonin in the brain may cause bulimia.
In some instances, a career or environment which puts great pressure on body image and weight can lead someone to develop bulimia.
Treatments for bulimia usually consist of a combination of medication, nutritional education, and counseling.
A doctor may recommend a selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor (SSRI) to help relieve a person of depression and mental distress.
Dialectical therapy, family therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and the like can help a patient develop positive behaviors. Nutritional education is also an important treatment to ensure that the patient has the tools to continue a healthy diet.
In advanced stages, additional action may be necessary in order to treat medical conditions derived from the disorder.
Bulimia isn’t necessarily capable of being prevented; however, there are ways to greatly reduce an individual’s likelihood of developing bulimia, or to provide early treatment to the individual. Recognizing the potential risk factors which render someone susceptible to bulimia and addressing those risk factors can help in discouraging the eating disorder. If someone shows signs of anxiety or poor body image, getting them mental health treatment can greatly reduce the risk of them developing bulimia. Instilling a strong sense of self-worth and a good body image in a child can minimize the likelihood of them developing an eating disorder as a teenager or young adult. However, in some instances, it is difficult to prevent bulimia. Recognizing the symptoms as soon as they start and getting early treatment is very important.