What Is Bulimia? Also known officially as Bulimia Nervosa or by a slang term, Ana Mia (for anorexia/bulimia), it is a psychological eating disorder where the issue of control is one of its central features.
In eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia there is usually a contradiction of control.
Both bulimics and anorexics have a desperate need to control their lives, emotions, and physical appearance, but the ways in which they attempt to achieve this suggests that they are actually out of control.
The main difference between anorexia and bulimia is that bulimics typically experience life through a series of in-and-out-of-control waves, but anorexics tend to use starvation as the ultimate form of control and/or purity.
Black and white thinking (known as dichotomous thinking), enters into the picture because food restriction, or dieting, is seen as "good" and in control, but bingeing (or not dieting) is seen as "bad" and out of control. The act of purging is a symbol of release.
The definition of bulimia is seen in the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders - Fourth Edition), which gives the formal, psychiatric explanation of this disorder.
Statistics on bulimia show that the illness is highest in girls and young women between the ages of 12 and 25 who live in areas of the world where dieting is common.
There are often signs of bulimia in the way that sufferers act or behave. They can become very secretive and dishonest -- not intentionally, but as a result of the illness.
Some bulimic behaviors might include being obsessed with weight and body image, hoarding food, frequent trips to the bathroom immediately after a meals, and odd or uncontrollable spending habits.
Learn more about the signs of bulimia.
Symptoms of bulimia are extremely serious because they can progresses quickly and are sometimes fatal.
The human body wasn't designed to consume extraordinary amounts of food, or to endure such frequent episodes of self-induced vomiting. Here's a sampling of some of the medical complications of bulimia --
While there is no single thing that can be attributed as the cause of bulimia, there are several factors that are considered in the diagnosis and treatment of this disorder.
There has been a lot of research in this area and virtually all of the studies conclude that bulimics have a strong dissatisfaction with their bodies and these feelings can transfer to, or interfere with family relationships.
Some people believe that chemical imbalances in the brain can play a role.
As result of serious medical complications, some long term effects of bulimia can be permanent and irreversible.
In order to repair damage, corrective surgery may be an option, but in severe cases, organ transplants might be necessary to save a life.
It's very important to try to recognize the early signs, symptoms and effects of bulimia before these permaenent damages occur.
What is bulimia treatment, besides complicated and multi-dimensional?
In order to be as effective as possible, treatment typically involves inpatient care at an eating disorder treatment facility, where the treatment team often consists of a medical doctor, a mental health counselor, and a dietitian.
Ideally, once a patient is discharged from an eating disorder clinic, they will have the same support (doctor, therapist, dietitian), but in an outpatient setting.
It's public knowledge that the following recognizable names have battled bulimia at one point or another during their careers.
They are doing well in recovery -- with one obvious and tragic exception.
These are some of the people who have had bulimia:
Feel free to read on about the definition of anorexia for a description of the two types of anorexia, and how it compares to the question, "What Is Bulimia?"
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