What is bulimia and how is it treated?

Most people who develop any eating disorder such as Anorexia or Bulimia pursue a valid goal at first (to feel better about themselves)

Nowadays, the desire to have a perfect body can be overwhelming for some people. As a society, we are bombarded with images of A-list celebrities in skintight gowns sporting thin bodies. We see models and famous people going from slim to slimmer and wonder why we can’t lose that stubborn belly.

For many people, their imperfect bodies signify a loss of control, so they move to extreme measures to get their bodies and figures under tight control. For many men and women, bulimia nervosa is one of these extreme measures.

Bulimia is an eating disorder or an obsession with both food and weight. This disorder can most often be characterized as a cycle of overeating followed by purging. Somebody who suffers from bulimia will often eat uncontrollably, not because they feel they are starving, but because some outside factor, like depression, triggers this overwhelming desire.

The sufferer will often consume significantly more food than a normal person could or would consume within the same time frame. The food consumed is never healthy food like vegetables and fruits, but rather comforting foods like ice cream and sweet desserts. One who is bulimic almost feels a sense of urgency in their eating and rarely is their appetite appeased.

Once they have completely binged, the bulimic begins to feel intense remorse. They have lost control and now they are going to do whatever it takes to reclaim that control. Since ultimately they do not want to gain weight, they spiral into an inappropriate form of behavior to compensate for their overeating.

They either choose to purge their food by vomiting, using diuretics, enemas or laxatives or by intense exercising or even fasting. At this point, it is easy for the bulimic man or woman to begin to feel an intense sense of self-hate.

Some symptoms of a bulimic include intense overeating, extreme exercise, frequent trips to the bathroom (especially after a meal), moodiness, depression, or weakness. There is also an endless list of the side effects of bulimia including the wearing down of tooth enamel (from purging), ulcers in the stomach, dehydration, and the risk of a heart attack.

If you or somebody you know has symptoms of bulimia, fortunately, you can be helped. The earlier you recognize the symptoms of bulimia and ask for help, the better. In order to treat bulimia, the patient usually has to go through counseling, since the causes for bulimia are mental.

This will allow the patient to get to the root of the behavior and figure out what it is that is causing the need to control through binging and purging. If necessary, the patient may be put on some sort of antidepressant. Otherwise, they will go through both counseling one-on-one as well as group therapy where the patient will get to meet other men and women suffering from this mental disorder.

The object is to get the patient’s sense of self-worth back up to par. If bulimia is left untreated, hospitalization may be required to correct the dehydration that walks hand in hand with bulimia.

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