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Bulimia nervosa: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About bulimia nervosa

Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder wherein the individual indulges in overeating and then purges out food to avoid gaining weight. Such individuals may be thin, normal or obese.

Bulimia nervosa: Incidence, age and sex

Bulimia nervosa mainly affects adolescents and young adults but it may be seen in middle aged adults as well. Young women and adolescent girls are most frequently affected.

Signs and symptoms of bulimia nervosa: Diagnosis

Bulimia nervosa is characterised by episodes of binging and purging. Following are some of the common features seen in an affected individual:

  • Distorted perception of one’s own body image is encountered in most individuals, irrespective of their body weight.
  • Hogging of excess quantity of food followed by throwing up or taking laxatives to avoid weight gain. Some individuals resort to excessive exercise or consuming diet pills to reduce weight.
  • Body weight keeps on varying with time.
  • Physical features like teeth decay, swollen cheeks.
  • Psychological features like anxiety and depression.
  • Some individuals may complain of sore throat, constipation or diarrhoea and abdominal pain.
  • Irregular periods or scanty menstrual bleeding

Causes and prevention of bulimia nervosa

There are several factors which may result in this emotional disorder. It is by and large a disorder of developed nations where physical appearance carries great emphasis. It can also be triggered by any traumatic event in life. Underlying psychological stress is a potent trigger for any emotional disorder. Some psychological problems like obsessive compulsive disorders and anxiety disorders may be associated with bulimia nervosa. Moreover bulimia nervosa is mainly seen in individuals with low self-esteem. Genetic predisposition may also play a role in causing bulimia nervosa.

Bulimia nervosa: Complications

A longstanding history of bulimia nervosa may result in several complications like dehydration and nutritional deficiency and repeated infections. Psychological problems like mood changes, irritability or depression may be seen which may sometimes result in suicide.

Bulimia nervosa: Treatment

The treatment modalities include psychotherapy, family support, medications and proper diet. Psychotherapy includes cognitive behaviour therapy which is of paramount importance in treating a patient of bulimia nervosa. Medications like anti-depressants and dietary supplements may be prescribed. Family support is essential to prevent relapses. Some dietary measures like high protein diet and avoidance of coffee and alcohol may also help.