Bulimia Nervosa: What to Look for and How to Get Help

Bulimia Nervosa: What to Look for and How to Get Help

Bulimia nervosa, which is simply known as bulimia, is a type of eating disorder in which the person affected has episodes of eating unusually large amounts of food followed by some sort of compensatory behavior such as purging, excessive exercising or fasting. Someone with bulimia, or any type of eating disorder for that matter, usually has an unrealistic body image of him/herself, which results in unhealthy eating habits. People who are bulimic, just like those who are anorexic, fear gaining weight, want to lose weight and are extremely unhappy with their body. However, what sets bulimics apart is that they usually end up maintaining a healthy/normal body weight for their size. This makes it harder for others to notice that they have an eating disorder. But unlike healthy people, people with bulimia have physical symptoms that are present as a result of their disorder. This includes worn tooth enamels, acid reflux disorder and other gastrointestinal problems, a chronically inflamed and sore throat, swollen salivary glands, severe dehydration, intestinal distress and irritation and lastly, electrolyte imbalance. However, before these symptoms worsen, you can look out for these warning signs of bulimia: evidence of binge eating (disappearance of large amounts of food in a short period of time and finding large amounts of wrappers and containers), an excessive and rigid exercise regimen even if they have an injury, illness or feel fatigued, evidence of purging behaviors such as frequent bathroom trips after meals, finding wrappers for laxatives or diuretics, smells of vomit, withdrawal from usual friends/activities, and the discoloration/staining of teeth, swelling of cheeks and jaw areas and calluses on hands/knuckles from inducing vomiting.

By looking out for these symptoms and warning signs, you may be able to figure out whether someone you know and love may have bulimia nervosa and thus get them the proper help they need. However, before the psychological and cognitive aspects of bulimia are treated –just like any other eating disorder- the body must first be treated physically. The first step is to restore adequate nutrition and bring the person back to a healthy weight. After one’s body has become stabilized, they can then move onto other treatment options that deal with the cognitive aspects of the disorder. The most effective treatment is psychotherapy which is often used in conjunction with medication. Psychotherapy helps the person understand their thoughts and cognitions, allowing them to rethink how they see themselves. It helps them fix their distorted self-body image.

If you believe that you are a loved one has or may have seasonal affective disorder, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can help you. Contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices respectively at (201)-368-3700 or (212)-722-1920 to set up an appointment. Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.

Sources: www.nationaleatingdisorders.org, http://www.nimh.nih.gov

By: Shivani J. Patel

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