What is bulimia nervosa?

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Bulimia nervosa is a serious mental health disorder that requires comprehensive bulimia treatment. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fifth Edition characterizes bulimia nervosa with the following criteria:

  • Recurrent episodes of binge eating(characterized by eating large amounts of food in a short period and a sense of loss of control over eating behaviors)
  • Use of inappropriate, compensatory behaviors, such as self-induced vomiting, laxative or diuretic abuse, fasting and/or obsessive exercise
  • The binge eating, and compensatory behaviors occur at least once a week for three months
  • Self-evaluation is inappropriately influenced by the person’s weight and shape
  • The disturbance does not occur exclusively during episodes of anorexia nervosa

A few facts about bulimia nervosa may surprise you. For example, the majority of people with bulimia nervosa are female. In fact, there’s a 10:1 female-to-male ratio. Also, contrary to popular belief, people with bulimia nervosa often appear to be of average body weight. This can make it easier for suffers to hide their problem.

Signs and Symptoms of Bulimia Nervosa

The symptoms of bulimia nervosa can be hard to spot unless you know what you’re looking for. Mental health professionals look for the following:

  • Existence of binge eating (food wrappers and containers; food hoarding)
  • Evidence of purging behaviors (frequent trips to the restroom after meals, signs and/or smells of vomiting, presence of wrappers or packages of laxatives or diuretics)
  • Skipping meals or taking small portions of food at regular meals
  • Stealing or hoarding food in strange places
  • Drinking excess amounts of water or non-caloric beverages
  • Excessive, rigid exercise regimen
  • Unusual swelling of the cheeks or jaw area
  • Calluses on the back of the hands and knuckles
  • Discoloration or staining of the teeth
  • Creation of complex lifestyle schedules or rituals (to allow time for binge eating and purging sessions)
  • Withdrawal from friends, family, and/or activities
  • Behaviors and attitudes indicating a preoccupation with the importance of weight loss, dieting, and control of food
  • The binge eating, and compensatory behaviors occur at least once a week for 3 months
  • Self-evaluation is inappropriately influenced by the person’s weight and shape
  • Extreme mood swings

Health Consequences of Bulimia Nervosa

A woman stares at her food during her bulimia treatment or bulimia nervosa treatment

As the condition worsens, the symptoms of bulimia nervosa can eventually become more severe. Complications that can arise from an extended battle with bulimia include the following:

  • Electrolyte imbalances (can lead to irregular heartbeats and possibly heart failure and death)
  • Inflammation and/or rupture of the esophagus
  • Tooth decay and/or staining
  • Chronic irregular bowel movements and constipation
  • Pancreatitis
  • Gastric rupture

How We Treat

Our clinical bulimia nervosa disorder treatment methods include the following:

  • Dialectical behavioral therapy
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Exposure and response prevention
  • Experiential and symbolic experiential therapy
  • Acceptance and commitment therapy
  • Psychodynamic therapy
  • Narrative therapy
  • Symbolic modeling (metaphor) therapy
  • Reality therapy

Find Bulimia Treatment at Magnolia Creek

For more information about Magnolia Creek’s bulimia treatment program, give us a call at 205-650-8077.