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A Beginner’s Guide to Bulimia Nervosa

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What Is Bulimia Nervosa and What Sets It Apart from Other Eating Disorders?

Bulimia nervosa is a very serious mental health condition that is characterized by reoccurring cycles of compulsive binge eating episodes followed by purging (most often by self-induced vomiting). When a person with bulimia nervosa binge eats, they typically eat a very large amount of food in a relatively short amount of time, often past the point of satiety or comfort.

It is common to experience feelings of shame, guilt, disgust and regret during or after a binge eating episode. Then after the episode is done, there will be some form of compensatory behaviors to eliminate the large number of calories they just consumed. Some common compensatory behaviors used by people with bulimia eating disorder include self-induced vomiting, fasting, excessive exercise, laxative and diuretics abuse and more.

How Does Bulimia Nervosa Differ from Binge Eating Disorder?

Both conditions are exemplified by recurrent binge-eating episodes. However, people who have developed binge eating disorder normally do not purge, abuse laxatives, or excessively exercise afterward. Without the purging behaviors that can cause people with bulimia nervosa to maintain a “healthy” weight or become dangerously underweight, people with binge eating disorder are often overweight or even obese.

What Can We Do About a Bulimia Nervosa Diagnosis?

Each person being different, the symptoms requiring bulimia nervosa treatment may vary slightly from person to person. Most eating disorder experts agree that evidence-based talk therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy are very successful in treating patients of all ages. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, shortened to CBT, is designed to help patients monitor their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors related to their eating disorder.

Once they have been able to stabilize their eating behaviors and recognize environmental triggers, people in treatment can easily recognize disordered thoughts relating to their body shape and self-image. Mindfulness, or the concept of self-awareness and living in the moment, has proven effective for identifying disordered behaviors and thoughts as well.

Are There Specific Benefits of Bulimia Nervosa Treatment Centers?

While adolescents and young adults, who are at the highest risk for developing eating disorders, may have similar symptoms as adult patients with bulimia nervosa, they can benefit from entering into an eating disorder counseling program that is targeted at people their age. Because their brains and bodies are still developing, adolescent clients require programs that are psychologically and medically focused on their age group.

Additionally, eating disorder treatment programs that are designed for younger patients also have many resources for families and loved ones to utilize. Having a strong support system in place is very important for the recovery process at any age, but for an adolescent returning to school or college and going back to an unsupervised daily grind, support can make the difference. In fact, many treatment programs for teens with eating disorders are set-up so that parents and other family members are involved in the recovery process from beginning to end.

What Other Health Complications Might Someone with Bulimia Nervosa Experience?

One of the most common health issues that those with bulimia nervosa may experience includes gum disease and severe tooth decay. This is the result of repeated self-induced vomiting which can result in a sore throat, tooth enamel erosion, gingivitis, and even bone loss. Purging can also lead to severe dehydration, which can result in kidney failure and other health complications.

Where Can I Find Bulimia Nervosa Treatment Near Me?

Your first step should always be to discuss the possibility of bulimia nervosa with your doctor and/or therapist. They’ll have the tools to make a correct diagnosis and help you plan the next steps for treatment. Normally, they’ll make a referral to an inpatient, outpatient, residential or day treatment eating disorder facility nearest you, although in some cases you may want to consider going out of state.  The key is to act fast. Early intervention is essential in bulimia nervosa, as with other mental health disorders.

If you or someone you know experiences mental health issues, it is important to seek help from a qualified professional. Our Resource Specialist can help you find expert mental health resources to recover in your community. Contact us now for more information on this free service to our users.

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CARRIE HUNNICUTTWith 20 years of behavioral health business development experience, Carrie combines world-class marketing, media, public relations, outreach and business development with a deep understanding of client care and treatment. Her contributions to the world of behavioral health business development – and particularly eating disorder treatment  – go beyond simple marketing; she has actively developed leaders for her organizations and for the industry at large.

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The opinions and views expressed in this guest blog do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in this article or linked to herein.

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