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What is Bulimia?
Bulimia Nervosa, more commonly coined Bulimia, is a serious and potentially fatal eating disorder. Commonly, individuals with Bulimia will attempt to conceal binge eating and then purge the food in unhealthy ways to decrease and ultimately eliminate caloric intake.
Bulimia may be categorized in two ways: purging bulimia and non-purging bulimia. Purging Bulimia will have characteristics of regular self-induced vomiting, misusing laxatives, getting an enema or misusing diuretics after a binge. Non-purging Bulimia utilises methods of eliminating calories by fasting, adhering to strict diet, and excessive exercise.
The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders reports that approximately 1.5% of American Women suffer from Bulimia Nervosa in their lifetime. Additionally, nearly half of bulimia patients have a comorbid mood disorder, more than half have comorbid anxiety disorders and nearly 1 in 10 patients have comorbid substance abuse disorders, typically alcohol use.
The Mental Health Foundation in the United Kingdom reports that more than 725,000 people in the UK are affected by an eating disorder and Bulimia Nervosa affects 1-3% of the population.
Symptoms of Bulimia
Symptoms of Bulimia Nervosa will pertain to obsessions with body shape and weight. Individuals with Bulimia Nervosa may feel that they have little or no control over behaviour in regard to eating or have a fear of gaining weight. Individuals may force themselves to vomit or exercise excessively after a binge, in an effort ensure they don’t gain weight. Additionally, individuals may misuse laxatives, diuretics, or enemas after a binge to reduce caloric intake.
What are the warning signs of Bulimia Nervosa?
Bulimia Nervosa can be difficult to detect in a loved one as most people with bulimia maintain a normal weight or are slightly overweight. Signs to look for are having a distorted and extremely negative body image. Individuals may verbalize a constant concern about being fat and extreme dissatisfaction with their body. Additionally, individuals may repeated consume exorbitant amounts of food in one sitting, food that they would normally avoid. The individual may go to the bathroom immediately following a meal or during the meal. Finally, scars, sores or calluses on the hands or knuckles and damaged teeth and gums are signs that accompany Bulimia Nervosa.
Treatment for Bulimia
Treatment for Bulimia varies and will be determined on a case-by-case basis with the client and the therapist. Psychotherapies can be used to treat Bulimia . Enhanced Cognitive Therapy (CBT-E) is a highly individualised psychological treatment for eating disorders. This treatment is structured and will have an average of 20 sessions that are 50 minutes long that span over 20 weeks. Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT) is a time limited therapy that works to alter the way an individual thinks, acts and feels, and events and relationships that influenced or underlie their experiences. Family Based Therapy is used to stop unhealthy behaviour in teens and assist the teen to regain control over eating. Additionally, Family Based Therapy can serve a familial support as the family works in unity to address problems caused by Bulimia.
For more information about talking therapies and treatment programmes available at our Clinics in London, Milan and Rome please visit our Treatment page.
All our Therapists offer Psychological Therapies for Bulimia to Adults and Teenagers. Click here to meet the Team.
Sessions with our Psychologists are by prepaid appointments only. You can find out more about our fees on our Fees Page.
Further Reading about Bulimia
For further reading, please click here to view a blog written by a recovery coach who has recovered from bulimia for 15 years. The blog offers advice, shared experiences, and resources for those recovering from bulimia. Imperfect Matter is health and recovery blog, written by a former gymnast who has recovered from bulimia. The blog offers advice and additional resources for those living with bulimia, please click here to view the blog.