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What is Bulimia Nervosa?

by Amanda Collins

Some describe Bulimia as like being trapped in a prison. A never ending cycle of binging, purging and exercising. A mental cage of constant craving, shame, guilt, self-loathing, secrecy, pain and fatigue overseen by a constant inner voice driving sufferers to go to war with their own body.

Those watching from the sidelines either don’t notice the walls closing in on their loved one, or they feel powerless to act.

But bulimia is not a life sentence, it can be beaten and sufferers can and do go on to live full, healthy lives.

The key to recovery lies in treatment. There are so many options and avenues for getting help, whether as an outpatient, inpatient or through therapy. But in order to get help, sufferers and their loved ones need to recognise that there is a problem, and this can be done through acknowledging the symptoms of the condition, and then visiting the doctor for a diagnoses and treatment plan.

help for bulimia

Signs of Bulimia

Physical:

  • Fast weight loss and serious fluctuations in weight and body shape
  • Light-headedness, fainting or frequent dizzy spells
  • Tired all the time and low energy levels
  • Disrupted sleep or insomnia
  • Sudden food intolerances
  • Constipation
  • Swelling around the cheeks or jaw
  • Damaged teeth
  • Bad breath
  • Bloating
  • Changes in menstrual cycles (for females)

Mental:

  • Obsession with weight, food and exercise
  • Anxiety, particularly around food and meal times
  • Increased irritability
  • Fear of weight gain
  • Hard to concentrate, fuzzy thinking
  • Depression
  • Extreme sensitivity to comments around appearance and food low self-esteem
  • Strong sense of shame, particularly around food
  • Sees their own body radically differently to how others view it (body dysmorphia)

Behaviour:

  • Frequent trips to the toilet following meals
  • Hoarding or hiding food
  • Vomiting after eating or drinking
  • Misusing laxatives, appetite suppressants, or enemas
  • Eating alone, or avoiding group meals
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Repetitive checks of body weight
  • Obsession with physical appearance
  • Compulsive exercising even when sick or in bad weather
  • Spending lots of money on food

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