Bulimia Nervosa | Counseling | Therapy

Bulimia Nervosa

Alex , CAS, MSW, ACSW, LCSW — Founder & executive director

Bulimia Nervosa is a Psychological disorder characterized by preoccupation with body image and binge eating followed by some type of purging (e.g. laxative abuse, vomiting) in an attempt to compensate for the binge.

The nature of bulimia: in the book Reviving Ophelia, the author describes her thoughts on women suffering from this disorder. “Bulimic women like their Anorexic sister are over socialized in the feminine role. They are the ultimate people pleasers. Most are attractive with good social skills. Often they are the cheerleaders and homecoming queens, the straight A students and pride of their families” Bulimic young women have lost their true selves. In their eagerness to please, they have developed an addiction that destroys their central core… They have sold their souls in an attempt to have the perfect body. They have a long road back”

There is not as much research or information on Bulimia Nervosa as there is on Anorexia Nervosa. That is because Bulimia Nervosa was not officially recognized or researched until 1979. Approximately 30% to 50% of people diagnosed with Anorexia eventually develop Bulimia. The majority of people with Bulimia fall within an average weight range. People. Suffering from Bulimia usually tend to fluctuate a lot with their weight within a relatively short time. Their weight commonly fluctuates between 5 and 15 pounds within a one-week period.

* Bulimic symptoms are used in an attempt to manage weight and also to avoid dealing with unpleasant feelings such as of anger, anxiety, and sadness.
* People with Bulimia Nervosa binge and purge in an attempt to get rid of calories and to relieve tension.
* Once the pattern becomes ingrained, people with this disorder usually feel they have no control over their binging and purging.
* The addictive nature of this disorder commonly leads to feelings of helplessness, shame, and depression.
* People with Bulimia usually report feeling a loss of control over their symptoms that commonly leads to depression.
* The shame from the Bulimic behaviors can make it difficult for people to go in for treatment.
* The most common risk factors that necessitate a higher level of care in patients with Bulimia are self-harm behaviors and suicidal thoughts.

Why someone living with bulimia nervosa should seek out immediate therapeutic support? Bulimia nervosa is a serious and potentially life-threatening eating disorder characterized by a cycle of binge eating followed by purging behaviors, such as self-induced vomiting, excessive exercise, or the misuse of laxatives or diuretics. Immediate intervention for bulimia is crucial due to the severe physical, psychological, and social risks associated with the disorder. Here are some reasons why bulimia requires prompt intervention:

  1. Medical Complications: Bulimia can lead to a range of serious medical complications, including electrolyte imbalances, dehydration, gastrointestinal problems, dental issues (due to frequent vomiting), irregular heart rhythms, and damage to vital organs. These complications can have life-threatening consequences if left untreated.
  2. Risk of Death: The combination of purging behaviors and the strain they put on the body, along with potential medical complications, can result in a higher risk of mortality compared to the general population.
  3. Impact on Mental Health: Bulimia can have a profound impact on mental health, contributing to depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and a distorted body image. Left untreated, these mental health issues can worsen and lead to a cycle of emotional distress.
  4. Cycle of Binge and Purge: The cycle of binge eating followed by purging can become increasingly difficult to control and may escalate over time. Early intervention can help break this cycle and prevent the behaviors from becoming deeply ingrained.
  5. Negative Effects on Relationships: Bulimia can strain relationships with family, friends, and partners due to secrecy, isolation, and the emotional toll it takes on both the person with bulimia and their loved ones.
  6. Social Isolation: The shame and guilt associated with bulimia can lead to social isolation as individuals may avoid social situations involving food, making it difficult to engage in normal activities and enjoy life.
  7. Negative Impact on Quality of Life: Bulimia can significantly impact an individual's overall quality of life, affecting their physical health, psychological well-being, and ability to function effectively at school, work, and in daily life.
  8. Potential for Chronicity: Without intervention, bulimia can become a chronic condition that persists for years, making treatment more challenging as the disorder becomes deeply ingrained.
  9. Prevention of Long-Term Consequences: Early intervention can help prevent the development of long-term physical and psychological consequences associated with bulimia.
  10. Effective Treatment Options: With timely intervention, individuals with bulimia have a higher likelihood of responding well to treatment. Evidence-based therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for eating disorders, can be effective in helping individuals develop healthier behaviors and attitudes towards food and body image.
  11. Supportive Environment: Intervention provides an opportunity to involve family members, friends, and loved ones in the recovery process, creating a supportive environment that enhances the individual's chances of successful treatment.

If you suspect that someone is struggling with bulimia or any other eating disorder, it's important to encourage them to seek professional help from a qualified healthcare provider, therapist, or psychiatrist who specializes in eating disorders. If there are immediate concerns about the person's health and safety, or if they are at risk of medical complications, seeking emergency medical care is essential. Early intervention and treatment can make a significant difference in the person's recovery journey and overall well-being.


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