National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers
American Society of Addiction Medicine
National Association of Psychiatric Health Systems
American Psychological Association
The Jason Foundation
Signs & Symptoms of Bulimia
Characterized by episodes of uncontrolled overeating followed by self-induced vomiting, bulimia nervosa is a perilous disorder that can render a number of devastating mental and physical health risks for sufferers. The binge-purge cycles cornerstone to this condition are often driven by the intense desire to lose weight and achieve a desired body image. Those grappling with this danger form of disordered eating often tie their self-esteem and self-worth to their physical appearance and go to great lengths to have the body shape and weight they desire.
Many people struggling with bulimia nervosa also abuse laxatives, diuretics, and enemas with the hope that they will prevent weight gain. However, long-term use of these substances can cause irreversible organ damage and other such effects if therapeutic intervention is not sought. Furthermore, those with this condition are likely to develop other mental health concerns if symptoms of this disorder remain long-standing. Fortunately, there are effective treatment options available that can offer the life-saving care sufferers of bulimia need in order to live happy, healthy lives.
Get confidential help now: 855.396.1913 or EMAIL US.
Research has concluded that approximately 24 million people in the United States meet diagnostic criteria for eating disorders, such as bulimia nervosa. A serious mental health condition that typically begins during late adolescence or early adulthood, bulimia is said to affect more females than males. However, with greater awareness pertaining to the dangers associated with this disorder, more males are now believed to be seeking treatment.
Causes and Risk Factors for Bulimia Nervosa
There are certain causes and risk factors that can make an individual more vulnerable to bulimia nervosa than others. The following explanations expand upon these causes and risks and highlight the contributing factors that can increase an individual’s susceptibility to this form of disordered eating:
Genetic: A person’s family history is said to be a determinant for the development of bulimia nervosa. This conclusion was made when it was realized that some individuals who battle this condition often have a family history of this disorder as well. Finally, it is believed that individuals with a family history of depression or anxiety are also at an increased risk for the development of bulimia.
Environmental: It is widely believed by experts in the field of mental health that a person’s environment can greatly affect the development of bulimia nervosa symptoms. For example, individuals with a personal history of being sexually and/or physically abused are more like to become bulimic at some point in life. Furthermore, it is believed that people who experience overwhelming stress or are exposed to violence and chaos also have an increased risk for engaging in this form of disordered eating. Lastly, many mental health professionals agree that individuals who exist in a culture in which being thin is prized are more likely to develop symptoms synonymous with bulimia nervosa.
Exposure to environments in which thinness is revered
Being the victim of sexual or physical abuse
Family history of bulimia nervosa or other mental health conditions
Personal history of mental health conditions
Signs and Symptoms of Bulimia Nervosa
The telltale signs of bulimia nervosa can very person-to-person. Depending on the length of time a person has been engaging in the harmful binging and purging habits cornerstone to this disorder and the severity of the psychological distortions experienced by sufferers, the apparentness of this condition may or may not be so obvious. The listed behavioral, physical, cognitive, and psychosocial symptoms are those that are common among those with bulimia and should be reported to a mental health professional in the event treatment is sought:
Social withdrawal or isolation
Engaging in ritualistic eating behaviors
Inability to fulfill roles and/or responsibilities
Binge eating followed by self-induced vomiting
Abuse of laxatives, diuretics, and/or enemas
Irregular bowel movements
Imbalanced fluids and/or electrolytes
Low potassium levels
Calluses or scars on hands or knuckles
Constipation due to laxative abuse
Fluctuations in weight
Possessing a BMI greater than 18.5 but less than 30
Menstrual irregularity or amenorrhea (Females only)
Obsessions, compulsions, and/or preoccupation with food, weight, or body shape
Poor impulse control
Desire to control situations and environment
Feelings of ineffectiveness
Overwhelming fear of gaining weight
Drastic shifts in mood
Elevated anxiety levels
If you feel that you are in crisis, or are having thoughts about hurting yourself or others, please call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room immediately.
Effects of Bulimia Nervosa
The long-term effects of bulimia nervosa can oftentimes be far-reaching, affecting every area of an individual’s life. By not seeking treatment for this serious form of disordered eating, the following effects have the potential to occur:
Development of another mental health condition
Inability to maintain employment
Development of a substance abuse problem
Decline in quality and quantity of interpersonal relationships
Those battling bulimia nervosa are known to suffer from additional mental health conditions at the same time. In many cases, individuals can develop compounding mental health concerns when in the throes of this disorder or experience exacerbated symptoms of a preexisting mental illness. For these reason, the following disorders can be diagnosed at the same time as bulimia nervosa:
Substance use disorders
Get confidential help now: 855.396.1913 or EMAIL US.