Regarded as a menacing type of eating disorder, bulimia nervosa in its worst form may end up taking the life of the patient. This eating discrepancy is typified by episodic bouts of bingeing or gorging followed by regurgitation that is brought upon by the patient through the use of emetics or diuretics. Bulimia nervosa often leads to other mental health problems including depression, anxiety or panic attacks where the individual usually has a very low self-worth, possibly that no one cares (according to Betterhelp therapy services) and is wreaked by feelings of vulnerability or guilt.
Bulimia nervosa is one of the gravest of eating disorders that ends up taking a huge toll on the affected individual, both physically and mentally. The bulimic suffers from a low self-esteem and is preoccupied with her form and weight. On one hand, the patient is unable to contain her sporadic impulse to binge while on the other, she resorts to bouts of self-imposed purging in order to disgorge the excessive food intake, by gulping diuretics, emetics or laxatives.
Bulimia in an individual often happens to be co-morbid or in other words, the bulimic tends to suffer from an additional psychological problem like major depressive disorder or anxiety disorder. Besides seeking assisted care in the form of an outpatient or inpatient treatment program, a bulimic can abide by some DIY or self-help strategies to cope with the eating disorder. Following are some self-help techniques that a bulimia patient can heed apart from undergoing the regular treatment methods including psychotherapy, group discussions, nutritional counseling, and medicinal therapy.
Everyone knows who Princess Diana is. A beloved princess, a wonderful mother, a star of the media, and a frail woman who endured so much only to come out as stronger than ever. In the 20th anniversary of her death, the first-ever heard ‘Diana tapes’, a series of secret recordings of her interview with Andrew Morton about her life and loveless marriage, found a shocking discovery. Princess Diana admitted suffering from bulimia, and had to find “a therapist near me or else.”
Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder, a mental illness, and a worldwide epidemic. It is easily the first resort of people who are dying to lose weight abruptly or those who have a broken sense of self.
About one out of one hundred people suffer from bulimia – approximately 30 million in America and a whopping 70 million people worldwide.
This miserable disease is difficult to recover from, but some do get out of it alive, well and successful. They tell their story because they wouldn’t wish this to happen even to their worst enemy.
Laura the Bulimic Over-achiever
For someone who graduated with honors and a very active member of the church and the community, you would never think that Laura was bulimic. She looked happy and accomplished. Even her parents who lived with her didn’t see what she was going through.
For some reason (which we seem to understand because we sometimes do go through it), Laura had a lot of insecurities and she found food to be very comforting. It kept her together and it is what fed her anxieties.
She was gaining too much weight when one day she met a friend who told her that she could get away with gaining weight despite eating a lot. And that was the start of Laura’s horrific bulimia journey.
Throwing up the whole day and more than 40 laxatives in one sitting was the worst thing that she did. It made her realize that it was the lowest she could go, but she was wrong. She committed suicide – three times – before she finally decided to get help.
Her parents spent so much for therapy and she was recovering and relapsing many times. Finally, she sought spiritual help by staying in a girl’s room and reading the Bible, where she said she got all the counseling she needed.
“There were two keys to my healing and recovery. The first was choice, when I took the first step of deciding not to throw up again. The second one was Christ.”
Claire The Seasoned Bulimic
I refer to her as a seasoned bulimic because she started really young – at the age of 7 – and struggled with bulimia for more than a decade!
Claire didn’t really throw up to lose weight before, as she was already skinny. She just simply wanted to eat whatever she wanted but she can’t because, after much eating, her stomach would be full, and of course, she didn’t want that. What started as a one-time puke turned into a spree for every party and every casual dinner she ever had.
She felt that what triggered her bulimia to worsen was when her family moved to another country. She felt alone and out of place. This pushed her to nurture feelings of insecurity, anxiety, and depression, of which Betterhelp (a company that offers free counseling on their site) provides a rich resource for more information.
When she was in college, she almost became an Olympian. She was a great diver. But in the middle of the practice season, she lost 10 pounds and became so weak she couldn’t continue on. She lost that opportunity forever.
“It was not until I suffered from irregular heartbeats and my mother had a bout of depression when I realized that if I didn’t stop, I would just die and break my mother’s heart.”
The first step Claire took was an email to a counsellor. After sending that email, it was the last time that she ever threw up. The counsellor guided her towards the initial phases of online therapy, which she found very comforting because she couldn’t gather her guts to face a psychiatrist in a clinic. It felt so overwhelming.
It started with just the therapist asking Claire how she felt and her telling the therapist to be in touch with herself and really express how she felt with herself. She spilled everything and she cried for days, couldn’t imagine that she could feel that bad about herself.
Then came the healing. She slowly talked about her struggle with bulimia. Each moment empowering her, giving her the strength to beat it by opening up about it and finding ways to overcome it. And yes, Claire did. She is bulimia-free – it’s been eight years now.
Bulimia Is Real – and so is Recovery
The effects of bulimia not only involve your own life but the lives of those you love as well. If you are suffering from this devastating condition and these stories are familiar to you, then there is hope for you. Bulimia is real, and so is recovery.
Come out. Be heard. Share your burden and be healed. It’s time to make peace with food.
Although technically, bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder and regarded as such, the tendency to binge and then throw up is more of an emotional urge. Hence, it’d be apt to consider bulimia as a psychological disorder rather than being a somatic affliction as bulimics find it impossible to break free from the vicious bingeing-purging cycle. Bulimic individuals gorge through their meal because they find the activity (bingeing) solacing-a means to tide over feelings of low self-worth and cope with depression or anxiety attacks, and if you know someone in such a situation, BetterHelp says you can take steps to help.
However, bulimics will be relieved to know that the bingeing and purging phase that seems to go on and on, can be broken by adhering to some simple but practical steps. A bulimic will be able to follow the steps smoothly as they do not run counter to any treatment program that the individual might be undergoing.
Steps to Control Bingeing
- Eat with others and enjoy the meal
Bulimics while bingeing make sure that there is nobody around and prefer to take their meals all by themselves. Since the manner in which they gorge may appear repulsive to others, they take their meals alone. If you’re bulimic, you can take the first step of breaking away from the phase by committing yourself to taking meals with your family.
And instead of rushing through your repasts, take time to chew every morsel, and savor whatever you are eating. Appreciate the flavor, texture, and aroma of the food items and enjoy your meals.
- Drink two glasses of water only after the meal and not in between
You might be in the habit of drinking water frequently in between your meals in order to speed up the passing of food through the esophagus. Taking water along with morsels of foods interferes with digestion. If you have to take water while you’re eating then take a few sips.
Once you’re done with your meal, drink at least two full glasses of water that will give you a feeling of fullness and also discourage you from rushing to the bathroom for purging.
- Identify what triggers the bingeing episodes and then try to contain them.
For most bulimics, there is always something that triggers or stimulates them to indulge in bingeing. For instance, it could be their reminiscing about time spent with someone who was very close to them but is no more or it could be the image of a delicatessen that flashes in their mind. Or it could be that you are plain bored or feeling lonely.
Whenever you’re triggered to open the refrigerator door, pinch yourself, and try to dissuade yourself by rushing out of the room or doing something that keeps your mind off of food.
- Make the most of the distractions to keep triggers at bay
There are so many activities that you can indulge in so as to prevent yourself from getting distracted, including going for a walk, talking to a friend or playing with your kids.
- Plan well in advance
Take time out to prepare a grocery list comprising of nutritious and fresh food items. Also, take more meals at home and prepare them yourself in order to stop focusing on binge-eating.
- Look after yourself
Instead of always being preoccupied with weight loss and your looks, try to lead a more disciplined life. Consult with a dietician for preparing a daily nutrition chart, sleep and get up at the same fixed times every day and be active.
- Get all the support you can
Get all the support you need from your near and dear ones who can help you out with tackling bingeing and/or purging.
Steps to overcome purging
- Understand that weight loss cannot be achieved through purging
- Eat only those foods that do not stimulate regurgitation
- Maintain a diary to note down your feelings
Understanding and realizing the long-term effects of bulimia will better encourage you to follow the aforementioned steps as far as breaking the bingeing/purging cycle is concerned.
Bulimia is a serious mental health disorder that can cause severe complications like death if not treated immediately. Bulimia nervosa is a type of eating disorder that allows the person to undergo binge and purging episodes in controlling their weight. What causes a person to have bulimia is sometimes linked to the social pressure of thin-is-in principles. Other factors include dysfunctional family dynamics, childhood trauma or abuse, and environmental stress.
The problem is rooted on poor self-esteem and body image disturbance. Most common in women from teenagers to younger adults, this condition can also affect men in the same age range.
There are varying reports when it comes to the prognosis of bulimia nervosa. An epidemiological report in the UK states that 80% of people with bulimia make a complete recovery with treatment, while a report published in the US showed 45% to 75% full recovery. Either way, these are good reports. For those who do not seek treatment, the mortality rate is at 0.32% to 3.9%.
Types of therapy and treatment goals
Studies showed that successful treatment can be achieved if the person is willing to commit to recovery. Depending on the severity of the condition, the person can be treated as an in-patient or out-patient basis. Those who need urgent medical attention because of the medical complications of bulimia, they need hospitalization first to treat and manage the apparent symptoms such as electrolyte replacement or response to internal bleeding. After they get discharged, it is highly advised that they continue treatment, this time to help treat the underlying cause which is bulimia nervosa.
Treatment goals for bulimia nervosa will include:
- To become medically stable and prevent further complications from developing
- To learn healthy eating habits and value food as a nourishing element and not as a reward or punishment
- To build a strong sense of self-worth, develop a positive self-esteem and acceptance of positive body image.
- To treat co-occurring psychiatric conditions or substance use disorders
- To lay the foundation for a satisfying, fulfilling future
The inpatient treatment will require 30 to 90 days depending on the response of the patient to the therapies and treatment procedures. Chronic cases sometimes can reach up to six months of inpatient admission. The patient will receive services for medical care, housing, planned and therapeutic meals, staffing and adjunct therapies. If the patient is evaluated to have mild or moderate symptoms related to bulimia, the mental state could still be at its initial stage and can be managed on an out-patient basis. The patient will have several psychotherapy sessions and medications to complete the treatment protocol.
How much therapy costs
Inpatient treatment can range anywhere from $500 to $2,000 a day, and the average cost for a 30-day stay in a treatment facility is $30,000. Outpatient care, including medical monitoring and continuing therapy, can reach upwards of $100,000. insurance coverage is available as long as it is medically necessary. Your medical provider can provide the needed requirements to the insurance companies to have this approved.
Treatment costs can be a lot. However, it is critical to help the person recover and live a normal life. Costs still would depend on some factors like location and the accreditation of the therapist and the facility. You can ask for payment options as some medical facilities have their own offers and programs that provide special payment arrangements. If you have questions pertaining to treatment costs, you can try to visit this site and learn from the experts: https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/therapy/can-i-afford-to-see-a-counselor-how-much-does-therapy-cost/
Facts on Bulimia
Bulimia nervosa has become a worldwide dilemma that destroys the lives of men, women, adults and teens alike. Individuals with bulimia are caught up in a vicious cycle of too much eating and then depriving themselves of fullness by vomiting or purging. It is considered a life-threatening disease because binge eating and purging – the two hallmarks of bulimia – tremendously damage the physical, mental and emotional health of those suffering from this eating disorder.
Among bulimics, more than half of them have depression and anxiety. Additionally, 30% to 70% are suffering from a certain addiction and 34% are at risk of self-infliction and even suicide, which reportedly is one of the most common causes of death. That is why it is imperative for individuals with bulimia to seek treatment at the early stage of the disease. The challenge is that most of these individuals are hesitant to go forward because of fear and shame of being judged. Nevertheless, it would be helpful to know some pertinent signs and symptoms of this deadly eating disorder. Some of these are:
- Unusually depressed or anxious
- Low self-esteem
- Unhealthy teeth and gums
- Wounds and calluses on the knuckles of the hands
- Eating too much food, and then going to the bathroom after eating
- Dry, cracked skin
- Have mood swings and erratic behaviour patterns
Treating Bulimia Nervosa
There are currently several treatments – natural and medical – that have been utilized to help cure bulimic patients, but the most essential therapies that have shown positive outcomes are nutritional counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy, family therapy, and drug therapy. Let us describe each of these therapies and understand how they work and help bulimic patients recover from bulimia nervosa.
- Nutritional counseling. Medical nutrition therapy is a fundamental part of the treatment of eating disorders. It is aimed at helping patients realize the importance of eating normally and healthily by consistently meeting their nutritional requirements. Doing this slowly trains them to eat right, and then the process of healing the distorted self-image because of food comes next. It is also reinforced by support groups and individualized counseling to help lighten the patients’ struggles during recovery.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It is a type of psychotherapy that is considered to be the treatment of choice for bulimic patients. CBT is focused on helping the patients identify the negative behavioral patterns that they had formed from their bulimia, and then replacing these patterns with positive ones. The process starts with first trying to stop the binge and purging episodes through a reward system. The patients are also asked to monitor their eating schedules and find ways to stop themselves when they feel like vomiting. In several studies, CBT has shown to reduce the symptoms of bulimia by 50%.
- Family Therapy. The Maudsley method was utilized by patients with anorexia and had shown positive outcomes, which is why experts have started to use this on bulimics. A study was performed on 80 bulimic patients who underwent family therapy. After six months, 39% of them were able to stop binging and purging. It was reportedly more effective when tested on adolescent bulimics.
- Drug therapy. The most common medications recommended by physicians are the SSRIs, particularly fluoxetine and sertraline. These drugs have shown to tremendously reduce binging and purging urges, especially when combined with cognitive behavioral therapy.
If you want to know more about bulimia and its other forms of therapy, you can visit BetterHelp and see about the assistance they provide with their pool of online therapists ready to help. If you’re interested in other similar services, you might look into Talkspace, 7cups, and others for this type of support via the internet.
Deciding when to seek treatment is probably the hardest step in the recovery process. It requires you to realize that you need help and that you can’t beat your eating disorder alone. Seeking professional help is necessary because of the life-threatening status of eating disorders. When your eating disorder is in control, you lose the ability to think rationally and see the damaging effects it is having on your physical and mental health. A therapist can help you look at the situation logically and learn coping skills to deal with stress or poor self-esteem.
When deciding whether or not therapy is the right option for you, it is important to ask yourself these questions.
Seeking help for bulimia nervosa is a difficult thing to start, but is something that becomes absolutely necessary for several reasons. Bulimia is an eating disorder which can lead to life-threatening circumstances and health concerns. Eating disorders in general are extremely hard to recover from, but bulimia especially is difficult to handle alone and often requires professional help.
Here are a few steps to seeking treatment if you or someone you care about is struggling with bulimia nervosa.
As mentioned in previous posts, bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder and that it focuses on control. Essentially, it is about monitoring your food intake and weight carefully enough to binge-eat and then purge immediately after to avoid the effects of the food. Because of this, you are not in control. Your disorder is.
While therapy and treatment are both necessary to recovery, so is a support system. You can’t beat an eating disorder by yourself, which is why you have a therapist to give you the tools and coping strategies needed for recovery. However, you also need a support system outside of your treatment. Your friends and family can help give you strength and courage when you’re scared and want to give up.