What is Bulimia?

Bulimia nervosa is a serious psychological eating disorder that can lead to significant health problems and, in some cases, death. Bulimia is associated with overeating (binging) followed by purging the food that was consumed by vomiting, using laxatives, or prolonged periods of exercising. This is usually done to prevent gaining weight, to establish a sense of control, or to cope with stress and emotionally trying situations. There are many harmful side effects of bulimia which can be dangerous to people suffering from this disease.


What Are the Types of Bulimia?

The two most common types of the eating disorder bulimia include:

Purging Type – This is the most common type of bulimia and accounts for the vast majority of cases. Individuals suffering from the purging type of bulimia will overeat and then purge themselves through self-induced vomiting, laxatives, diuretics, or enemas.


Non-Purging Type – Individuals suffering from this type of bulimia will use other inappropriate methods to compensate for overeating, including excessive exercising or prolonged fasting.

What are the Symptoms and Signs of Bulimia?

Although people suffering from bulimia may try to hide their behaviors from their peers and loved ones, there are signs to watch out for. If left untreated by professionals, the symptoms of bulimia will often continue to worsen.

  • Constant weight fluctuations
  • Electrolyte imbalances
  • Purchase of laxatives, enemas, diuretics, etc.
  • Exercising for long periods of time
  • Eating during stressful situations
  • Red eyes due to broken blood vessels
  • Oral trauma and tooth decay due to repetitive vomiting
  • Chronic dehydration
  • Gastric reflux after eating
  • General weakness or fainting
  • Obsession with thinness, dieting, body image
  • Disappearance of large amounts of food
  • Secretive eating habits or hiding food
  • Lack of control when eating
  • Alternating periods of overeating and fasting
  • Prolonged or frequent bathroom use after meals
  • Smelling of vomit


What Causes Bulimia?


According to the The Renfrew Center Foundation for Eating Disorders, over 25% of college age women engage in binging and purging to maintain their weight. Men and women suffering from this eating disorder often go untreated due to shame, fear, or societal/familial pressure. The causes of Bulimia can come from a variety of psychological, social, and biological sources.


Psychological Causes of Bulimia – Often seen as overachievers, people who suffer from bulimia exude confidence and control in many aspects of their lives. Their quest for perfection can lead to an obsession with maintaining an unhealthy image of their bodies associated with disordered eating.


Social Causes of Bulimia – Bulimia can be caused by social pressure from various forms of media, careers that promote being skinny, and peer pressure among friends and family. Those interested in athletics, dancing, or other hobbies associated with a slim figure are particularly at risk.


Biological Causes of Bulimia – Bulimia can sometimes be influenced by genetics – certain studies have shown that people with siblings who suffer from bulimia are more likely to develop symptoms themselves. Bulimia can also be attributed to nutritional deficiencies or irregular brain chemistry.



Getting Help for Bulimia and Other Eating Disorders


Desert Star Recovery Center can help women and men of any age with treatment for bulimia. Our outpatient Eating Disorder Program, the Mesquite Program, offers teens and adults the therapy and counseling they need to get treatment for bulimia and help identify any causes of disordered eating.


Because bulimia is associated with having a negative body image and low self-esteem, it is important to integrate therapy and counseling into the eating disorder recovery process. We can help you stop the binge-purge cycle, improve your negative thoughts and self-image, and work with you to identify and resolve your emotional issues in order to overcome bulimia.


If you or someone you care about suffers from an eating disorder, do not hesitate to call and arrange a private meeting with one of our specialists to learn more about how we can help.


For more information about getting help for bulimia in Tucson, call Desert Star (520) 638-6000 today!


Bulimia Resources


https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/bulimia-nervosa – The National Eating Disorder Association Bulimia Information Page


http://www.anad.org/get-information/about-eating-disorders/bulimia-nervosa/ – The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders Bulimia Information Page