Suspecting that a family member or friend has bulimia is a scary and overwhelming feeling. How do you know if your suspicion is true? What if they push you away if you try to help? The first step in helping your loved one is to know what the signs and symptoms of bulimia are. The second step is not being afraid to help your loved one get help.
What is bulimia?
Bulimia is an eating disorder characterized by episodes of binging (eating a lot of food in a short period of time) followed by purging (ridding the body of the calories just consumed). Purging commonly occurs by vomiting, but can also include the use of laxatives or compulsive exercise. These binge/purge cycles are usually triggered by dieting, stressful events or by overwhelming feelings of low self-esteem, shame, anxiety or depression.
What are the symptoms of bulimia?
Physical symptoms of bulimia include:
* Eroded tooth enamel
* Tears in the esophagus
* Stomach ulcers
* Dry skin
* Irregular heartbeat
* Irregular or absent menstrual cycles
* Frequent sore throats and/or swollen glands
* Bloodshot eyes or light bruising under the eyes
* Sores or calluses on hands, knuckles
Emotional/behavioral symptoms of bulimia include:
* Mood swings
* Insomnia or poor sleeping habits
* Constant dieting
* Feeling unable to control eating during binges
* Frequent trips to the bathroom immediately following meals
* Use of diet pills, laxatives or enemas
* Hiding food in strange places and/or hoarding food
What causes bulimia?
There is no single cause of bulimia, but a there a variety of risk factors associated with developing this disorder, including:
* low self-esteem
* poor body image
* appearance-orientated professions or sports
* major life changes
* biological factors
* a history of sexual abuse
* certain personalities, such as being a perfectionist
* emotional disorders, such as depression, anxiety, PTSD or obsessive-compulsive disorder
* negative family influences
How do you treat bulimia?
No amount of love and support you give can replace the need for professional treatment. The best thing you can do for a person with bulimia is to encourage them to seek professional help. There are many types of treatments for bulimia, and each option should be tailored to your loved one’s specific needs, symptoms and emotional issues. These treatments can include psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, nutritional counseling, group support, inpatient treatment, holistic treatments, or a combination of any of these.
If you suspect a loved one is suffering from bulimia, don’t wait. No matter how daunting it may be, you owe it to your loved one to talk about their destructive behavior and encourage them to seek professional help. Eating disorders are a progressive mental illness that can potentially be fatal. Without treatment, 20 percent of people with a serious eating disorder will die.
Call Casa Palmera today and ask how their eating disorder treatment program can give your loved one the help they need.