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Signs of Bulimia: Understanding and Treating the Disorder

What is Bulimia?

Understanding signs of bulimiaTrying to understand what are and are not signs of bulimia can be daunting. Often you may lack the understanding that certain types of behavior are signs of an eating disorder. Bulimia is characterized by episodes of eating much more than intending to, binging, followed by an attempt to avoid weight gain, such as purging. Purging can include vomiting, using laxatives, or extended periods of exercising. Often, the sufferer of this disorder feels a lack of control while binging and desperately attempts to remedy the uncomfortable feeling by purging. Here are some signs of bulimia with the causes, symptoms, and treatment of this serious disorder.

What causes bulimia?

There is no one cause of bulimia, but it can be a combination of several factors, including:

  • Genetics
  • Dieting
  • History of abuse of trauma/bullying
  • Stressful transitions and life changes
  • Unhealthy relationship with food in the family
  • Negative body image
  • Pressure from society to be “thin”
  • Co-occurring disorders such as Borderline Personality Disorder or Bipolar Disorder

Signs of Bulimia

  • Weight fluctuations
  • Decaying of teeth
  • Broken blood vessels in the eyes
  • Enlarged glands in the neck
  • Eating in secrecy
  • Lack of control when eating/Eating very quickly
  • Extreme shame when eating
  • Frequent use of bathroom after meals

Bulimia Facts

Bulimia can affect anyone the prevalence among women 1.5% and .5% in men. It often doesn’t follow the general stereotypes of many other types of eating disorders. For example, people with bulimia are often normal weight or even overweight, as opposed to people with anorexia, who are frequently underweight. Dangerously, 30-70% of people with bulimia also have an addictive disorder. This is very serious because adding substances or alcohol to an already stressed body can have deadly consequences. However, there are many types of treatment for bulimia.

Do you believe you or someone you love is suffering from binge eating? Take our quiz to find out more information and what can be done about it. 

Bulimia Treatment

Treatment for bulimia can include the following levels of care:

  • Medically stabilize in a hospital setting
  • Residential treatment
  • Partial hospitalization
  • Intensive outpatient
  • Outpatient

Level of care depends on severity and people tend to move down the levels of care as they start to recover from bulimia.

Clinical therapy for bulimia includes the following:

  • Meeting with a dietician regularly and following a prescribed meal plan
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy with a therapist which will identify how thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are interrelated and fueling the disorder.
  • Family-based therapy
  • Interpersonal therapy used in identifying difficulties in relationships and developing effective communication and assertiveness skills.
  • Medications: some antidepressants may help with bulimia, especially if someone also suffers from depression and/or anxiety.

Self-care Tips for Bulimia

  • Stick to your treatment plan. Try not to skip any appointments with your therapist and dietician and try not to stray from meal plans.
  • Educate yourself about bulimia.
  • Stay connected. Don’t isolate yourself and lean on your support systems, such as your family and friends.
  • See your doctor about any medical issues you may have developed over the course of your illness.
  • Be kind to yourself. Resist the urge to weigh yourself or constantly check mirrors.
  • Be cautious with exercise. Talk to your treatment team regarding exercise, especially if you have a history of using it to purge.
  • See our tips for coping with binge eating.

Understand the Signs of Bulimia with a Therapist

If you or a loved is suffering from bulimia or another eating disorder, reach out for help. At Eddins Counseling Group, in Houston, we have many qualified therapists that specialize in eating disorders. Or consider seeking help in a group setting. Our Make Peace with Food group is designed to help people manage their binge eating. Call us at 832-559-2622 or book an appointment online to begin your journey of healing.

Yassmin Eldouh LPC-i, LCDC-i
Yassmin's passion is to help adults & teens gain the coping skills they need to face life's hurdles head on and to live their most authentic lives. Yassmin's specialties are eating disorders, body image, anxiety disorders, multicultural counseling, and addiction. Yassmin works with the client to help them discover what they need to ease some of their pain. Yassmin is fluent in English and Arabic.

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