Bulimia Essay, Research Paper
Eating disorders are devastating behavioral maladies brought on by a complex interplay of factors, which may include emotional and personality disorders, family pressure, a possible genetic or biologic susceptibility, and a culture in which there is an overabundance of food and an obsession with thinness. Eating disorder also may be defined, as self-abuse. Two of these disorders, anorexia and bulimia, result from the fear or overeating and of gaining weight. This paper talks about what bulimia means, its causes, symptoms, medical consequences, and treatment.
- What is Bulimia Nervosa?
Bulimia is an eating disorder characterized by binge eating followed by self-induced vomiting, the use of laxatives or diuretics, strict dieting or fasting, or excessive exercise. Although the disorder can affect men, the preponderance of people with bulimia are female adolescents and young women. Many are self-critical, perfectionist women from high achieving families. There are two subtype of bulimia nervosa: purging and nonpurging, it occurs in 0.5 percent to 2.0 percent of adolescents and young adult women. Purging type: this subtype describes presentations in which the person has regulatory engaged in self-induced vomiting or the misuse of laxatives, diuretics, or enemas during the current episode. Nonpurging type: this subtype describes presentation in which the person has used other inappropriate compensatory behaviors, such as fasting or excessive exercise, but has not regularly engaged in self-induced vomiting or the misuse of laxatives, diuretics, or enemas during the current episode. Also, bulimics are usually of average or above average weight, there are ongoing feelings of isolation, self-deprecating thoughts, depression, low self-esteem, and there is a full recognition of the behavior as abnormal, for example:
- Make excuses to go to the bathroom after meals.
- Shows mood swings.
- Buys large amounts of food, which suddenly disappears.
- Has unusual swelling around the jaw.
- Eats large amounts of food on the spur of the moment.
- Laxative or diuretic wrappers frequently found in trash can.
- If there is unexplained disappearance of food in the home or residence hall setting.
- What causes Bulimia?
Although the exact cause is not known, in a great majority of cases bulimia is thought to be related to a complex network of psychological and emotional factors. Rather than food itself being the central issue, other underlying concerns such as low self- esteem, feelings of inadequacy, a high need for approval from others, a sense o being out control, and high expectations for achievement can lead to bulimic behaviors. In this culture, societal messages also play a significant role by placing an exaggerated importance on physical attractiveness and thinness, and offering an often unattainable and unhealthy ideal. However, there is no one cause for this eating disorder. Many factors contribute to them, for example: a possible genetic predisposition, a metabolic and biochemical problems or abnormalities, social pressure to be thin and personal of family pressures.
- What are the symptoms of Bulimia?
Binging often occurs after a psychological or emotional episode such as depression, anxiety, or boredom. Bulimics eat tremendous amounts of food during binges. This is a loss of control over food, unlike anorexia that is full control over food intake. Feelings of guilt often set in after binge, which leads to the client purging and / or using laxatives to rid the body of the excessive calories they have just, take in. Also, bulimics hear “negative voices” this means that they hear voices against themselves. A person suffering from bulimia may exhibit some of the following behaviors or symptoms:
- Binge eating.
- Awareness of abnormal eating patterns.
- A fear of being unable to stop eating
- Depressed mood following an eating binge
- Inconspicuous eating
- Abdominal pain
- Excessive sleeping
- Self induced vomiting
- Repeated attempts to lose weight
- Frequent weight fluctuations
- Frequent use of laxatives or diuretics
- Excessive exercise
- Feelings of gloom
- Suicidal thoughts
- Impaired concentration
- Loss of menstrual period
- Damaged teeth from gastric acid
- Drug and alcohol use.
- Other symptoms may include cutting down strictly on food or liquids, weight gain or loss of 10 pounds or more; and physical changes including salt and fluid imbalance, hair loss, chronic sore throat, and swollen parotid glands (the saliva glands below the ears).
- Risks of Bulimia:
Major disturbance of the blood chemistry and rupture of the stomach are occasional causes of sudden death. These are rare unless the behavior is extreme. Acid from the stomach constantly washes over the teeth disolves the enamel, which will cause lasting damage. There is an association of ovarian cysts with the illness that is likely to reduce fertility. As with all eating disorders the greatest risks are from suicide of self-harm as a result of the emotional disturbances.
- How is bulimia diagnosed?
Diagnosis is generally made by patient history and physical examination. Bulimia nervosa involves recurrent consumption of large quantities of food in short period of time, followed by purging. The syndrome is further defined by criterion (at least two binge eating episodes per week for 3 months) and overconcern with body weight and shape. The bulimic person is generally not emaciated, and is often secretive about and ashamed of her/his behavior, and unlikely to volunteer the information that they are bulimic.
- How bulimia is treated?
People with bulimia must first understand that they are suffering from a very complex and often physically dangerous disorder. Effective treatment of bulimia not only results on the adoption on new eating behaviors, but also facilities and understanding of how eating behaviors may affected by other emotional and psychological issues. Outpatient individual and/or group psychotherapy is often recommended in the treatment of bulimia. Occasionally, family therapy and/ or antidepressant medications are also recommended. In some extreme cases, a structured hospital environment may be necessary as first step to reverse serious physical degeneration. Overall, it is important to realize that bulimia can be successfully treated, especially if help is obtained early in the illness. The treatment of bulimia begins with a complete medical evaluation. Most patients can be treated on an output basis. However, other complications may indicate the need for hospitalization. Partial hospitalization programs are also available. Individual and group psychotherapy has been found effective, particularly cognitive-behavioral therapy. Antidepressants, nutritional counseling, couples therapy and support groups may be a part of treatment.
The primary goals of treatment are:
- Normalization of eating patterns and daily caloric intake.
- Elimination of binge eating.
- Relinquishing self-evaluation based on body weight and shape.
- Enhancement of self-esteem.
- Improvement of problem-solving and decision-making skills.
- Enhancement of coping skills.
- Heightening of self-awareness of personal needs.
- Development of a solid self-concept.
Medications are sometimes used to assist in the treatment of Eating Disorders like bulimia however, is important to understand that there is no a “magic pill” those in recovery and on medication should also be in some type of therapy environment. Some of these medications are Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Effexor, Remeron, Wellbutrin, Luvox, Lithium, Desipramine, Imipramine, Xanax, and Naltrexone.
American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of
Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition. Washington, DC, American
Psychiatric Association. 1994, 544-547.
Mitchell, James E. Bulimia Nervosa. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota
Press, C 1990, 27-32.
S. W. Touyz and P.J.V. Beumont. Eating Disorders: Prevalence and
Treatment. Sidney; Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins, c 1985, 80-92.