Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder. This disorder is categorized by spree eating and abolition or consuming a large amount of food in short time and then trying to get rid of the food consumed. This is done through vomiting, taking a laxative, exercise, etc.
This is done due to an extensive concern for body weight
. The term bulimia nervosa was first coined by British psychiatrist Gerald Russell in 1979. Bulimia may also include fasting for a prolonged period of time. This is a very dangerous practice where the sufferer tries to keep their weight under control through the self-imposed threshold. This mostly leads to potassium loss leading to health deterioration. At times, it also creates depressive symptoms causing the sufferer to commit suicide. Many people with bulimia have an additional psychiatric disorder. This includes:
- Mood disorders
- Impulse control
- Impulsive behaviours
What is the frequency of the disorder?
Mostly people suffering from bulimia are women. Males do suffer from this disorder. Nowadays the prevalence among males has increased. Males usually have a later age of onset of disease. They also suffer from disturbances in the development of their identity towards their sexual inhibition. Males that are involved in sports and require weight regulation comprise a group of males with eating disorders. Among women mostly adolescents suffer from this disease. Most women prefer looking good over healthy. For young women self-worth, success and happiness are largely determined by their body measurements and body fat. The media try to advertise thin-ideal over the healthy deal. Therefore, young girls try to work towards looking thin even if it means purging.
Symptoms of the disorder
This kind of disorder involves rapid and out-of-control eating. This is also followed by self-induced vomiting or other forms of purging.
This cycle can be repeated several times in a week. In most severe cases, it is repeated several times a day. This leads to:
The contact between the teeth and gastric acid for a prolonged period causes:
- Swollen salivary glands
- Dental erosion
There some important signs or indications as to whether someone is suffering from the disorder. As with many psychiatric disorders, delusions can also occur along with other signs. This leads the person to hold on to a false belief that is not ordinarily accepted by others. The person may also suffer physical disorders such as tetany, epileptic seizures, muscle weakness and cardiac arrhythmias. People suffering from bulimia nervosa may also exercise to a point that that they refrain themselves from participating in other activities. The important signs include:
- Low blood pressure
- Irregular menstrual cycle
- Low self-esteem
- Fixation on number of calories consumed
Bulimics are more likely to have an affective disorder which includes depression
or general anxiety disorder. Bulimia nervosa or Anorexia nervosa had an increase in risk of anxiety and double risk for substance dependency. Some sufferers of Anorexia nervosa exhibit tendencies of Bulimia nervosa through purging which is a way to remove food quickly from their system. Bulimia also has several negative effects on the sufferer’s dental health. This is due to the acid which passes through the mouth because of frequent vomiting causing acid erosion. The effects are mainly seen on the posterior dental surface.
Adolescents are suffering from bulimia nervosa usually have self-imposed perfectionism and other compulsivity disorders in eating
compared to other people. The unrealistic goals set by these adolescents are internally motivated and not based on social views and expectations. There are some adolescents who suffer from disordered eating and exercising patterns without meeting all the diagnostic criteria’s of bulimia nervosa. There are two subtypes of Bulimia nervosa disorder:
- Purging type which includes self-induce vomiting to remove the food rapidly before it gets digested. This is done by using laxatives, diuretics or enemas.
- Non-purging type bulimics exercise or fast excessively after eating to offset the calorie intake. The purging type also may exercise or fast but as a secondary weight control.
In Bulimia nervosa, there has been evidence of genetic predispositions which contributes to the onset of the disorder. Sometimes sex hormones may influence appetite and eat in women in this disorder. Bulimia has been compared to drug addiction. Media portrayal of ideal body shape is widely contributing factor to bulimia. Sometimes extreme concern for weight and shape leads to strict and inflexible dietary rules.
There are several psychological treatments for people suffering from Bulimia nervosa. This involves teaching the client to challenge automatic thoughts and also engage in behavioural experiments. Cognitive behavioural therapy is the most effective treatment for this disorder. There is also a Family-based treatment which has shown positive results to patients of Bulimia nervosa. We can sum up by saying the entire family has to work together to help the patient develop coping strategies.