Bulimia treatment

Bulimia nervosa, usually just referred to as bulimia, is an eating disorder affecting women all over the world, and even some men; it is a very serious problem and can be fatal if left untreated. The gist of it is “bingeing” and “purging”; the bingeing involves eating large amounts of food in a very short amount of time, and the purging involves the individual ridding his or her body of the food just consumed by self-induced vomiting, taking enemas, or abusing laxatives or other diet pills. To be clear, all of us binge on occasion, say on Halloween when a whole bucket of candy is available, or on the 4th of July neighborhood cookout; keep in mind that this is okay, but when it happens excessively, it becomes a problem. The health conditions and medical problems that it can lead to if untreated include depression, anxiety disorders, heart or kidney damage, injuries to the digestive system, and severe dental damage. All of these potential consequences have an associated cause because this behavior of bingeing and purging is destructive to most, if not all, parts of the body. Not only are these physical problems a result, but other—mental and emotional—problems can become evident, such as stealing, self-mutilation, alcohol/drug abuse, and sexual promiscuity. As you can see, treatment is crucial; being able to identify the symptoms is the first step to even being able to get treatment.

There are very specific symptoms associated with bulimia: obsessive preoccupation with food, obsessive concern about body shape and weight, episodes of bingeing and purging following right after (happening at least twice a week for 3 months or longer), excessive exercise, self-criticism, depressed mood, feelings of shame or guilt during and after the bingeing/purging episodes. Another thing to pay attention to is the visible signs that appear over time: abdominal pain and bloating, irregular menstrual cycle, constipation, swollen cheeks, dental erosion/decay, overall weakness, swelling in general, swollen salivary glands, calluses/scabs on the back of the hands that are caused by constantly scraping them against the teeth to induce vomiting.

Treatment Options for Bulimia

Those affected by bulimia feel out of control and may not know what to do. Keep in mind that if you do suffer from bulimia, change is possible and, while it may seem difficult, treatment is easy to come by if you make the first steps to get it. There is treatment available, the love and support of family and friends, and even self-help strategies that help an individual overcome bulimia.

Weight restoration. If an individual has become underweight due to bulimia, the first goal of treatment is to restore the person’s weight to a normal level. This can be done with the help of a dietitian; the dietitian will give you a healthy eating plan and information about a healthy weight.

Doctors and physicians. In any case, once the problem is identified (and accepted by the individual), seeing a doctor is a good idea to check for any health problems that have been caused by the bulimia; it is important to treat these problems as needed. A doctor can also be a good support person along the way.

Therapy. This involves talking about your condition and related issues with a mental health professional. Breaking the binge and purge cycle, changing unhealthy thoughts and eating patterns, and solving emotional issues are the main goals of therapy. There are different types of psychotherapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy, which helps the individual identify negative feelings and thoughts and teaches them to replace these with positive feelings and thoughts. Family-based therapy is also effective in dealing with bulimia, particularly in children and adolescents; it basically implies that an individual is past the point of being able to make healthy decisions and needs the family to do that for him or her.

Medications. Antidepressant medications can often help reduce the symptoms of bulimia; the only FDA approved medication specifically for this is Prozac. Doctors, however, are allowed to prescribe other antidepressants at his or her discretion. The antidepressants can treat feelings of depression and anxiety that can often cause bulimia.

Hospitalization. In most cases, bulimia can be treated without entering a hospital, but if an individual has severe medical complications resulting from the bulimia, hospitalization is necessary, either in a medical or psychiatric ward. There are specialized eating disorder clinics available.

Self-help. There are things that a person affected by bulimia can and should do on their own to keep up the treatment; it is important that an individual know everything about bulimia there is to know. First of all, stick to the treatment plan; do not skip out on therapy sessions or meals. Get the right nutrition; most likely, with all the purging, your body isn’t really getting all the nutrients it needs, so it may be necessary to go on vitamin and mineral supplements. Stay in touch with family and friends who care and support you. Do not overdo it on the exercise, and most importantly, stay true and kind to yourself.

Last updated on Jan 24th, 2011 and filed under Healthy Eating. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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