Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder that is characterized by binging and purging food on a regular basis. In the United States, 85 to 90 percent of those who suffer from bulimia are female, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health. Though most young women are in the normal weight range for their height when they begin to binge and purge, their mental view of themselves is skewed based on impossible standards or poor self-esteem.
Eating disorders like bulimia can begin in children as young as six years old. Most bulimics reach the peak of their problem during puberty and into early adulthood. With incidences of binging and purging occurring an average of 11 times per week among those with serious issues, it is essential that bulimics receive the bulimia eating disorder treatment they need to break free before they cause permanent damage to their bodies.
Many patients who struggle with the binging and purging behavior that is a hallmark of bulimia nervosa try to break the cycle through willpower and dieting. This can have a short-term effect but when bulimia or other food issues are at the foundation of the problem, the fight for control through restriction can end up triggering maladaptive behaviors and the underlying dysfunctional relationship with food. The best way to address this issue is through a comprehensive bulimia treatment program that offers the multi-faceted mental health treatment necessary to rebuild perspectives on food and create a dynamic that will work.
If you or someone you care about is living with bulimia, don’t wait to take steps toward the help necessary to heal. When you call the number listed above, you will reach one of our counselors. Take a moment to discuss your needs and hopes for treatment and let us guide you toward a high-end mental health treatment program that can provide you with what you need to change your direction in life. Call now.
Bulimia and Treatment Statistics
Bulimia statistics demonstrate the stark need for bulimia treatment and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) offers a number of facts and numbers that further illustrate the damage that untreated bulimia can cause:
- Approximately 150,000 women each year die from issues related to eating disorders, including health complications that stem from bulimia.
- Girls are exposed to articles about weight loss and “ideal weight” that can cause poor body image issues and 44 percent develop a negative pattern with food as a result. For those who end up living with bulimia, a bulimia eating disorder treatment is the only way to break free.
- Individuals who suffer from bulimia have short-term success rates of 50 to 70 percent when they undergo bulimia eating disorder treatment. Relapse rates are between 30 and 50 percent after six months. There is a greater chance that bulimics will fall into the successful percentiles if they receive long-term support for their eating disorder through medical and psychological eating disorder treatment.
- There are a number of different health issues related to binging and purging as well as weight loss. These can include cardiac issues, which are the leading cause of death in those with eating disorders.
- Major depressive disorder occurs in 50 to 75 percent of those with an eating disorder including bulimia. Bulimia often ends in suicide in these cases.
Bulimia eating disorder treatment is essential for those with eating disorders. The illness is both mental and physical, but a well-rounded, intense treatment can set up bulimics for great success in recovery.
Assessment and Diagnosis
If you are seeking bulimia treatment for yourself or someone you care about, one of the first steps in determining the best course of treatment is a quality initial assessment and diagnosis by a licensed professional. This process will include:
- A detailed personal and medical history
- Assessment of current symptoms
- Review of existing physical conditions
- Evaluation of other possible psychological disorders to determine if there are Dual Diagnoses at work
Treatment options for bulimia focus both upon psychiatric and medical/nutritional support. Because of the intensity of the treatment required for success, inpatient treatment for bulimia can best ensure a successful recovery. Outpatient treatment centers have their benefits as well for those suffering with bulimia, especially when they have a heavy schedule at school or work. Inpatient residential eating disorder treatment can keep eating disorder patients on a strict regime that guides them to make nutrition a priority and allows them to focus on their physical and mental health without distraction.
Following the initial assessment, any of following options may be offered in your recommended treatment plan. Most approaches will involve the cooperation of the patient, psychologists and medical doctors. According to a study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry 2006 Jul;163(7 Suppl):4-54, in many cases, a combination of the following choices may be a patient’s most effective option:
Psychiatric Medications For some patients, prescription medication under a doctor’s supervision may help them successfully recover from bulimia. The medications may treat the emotional issues surrounding bulimia or may be used to treat a dual psychological diagnosis.
Outpatient Treatment: This option usually consists of weekly psychotherapy, regular appointments with dieticians to provide information on what “normal” eating patterns consist of and regular check-ups with doctors to address the physical recovery needs of the patient.
Day Hospital Care+
Day Hospital Care: Many patients need more support than outpatient treatment options are able to provide. For these individuals, there is an intermediate step before entering a total inpatient facility. Full-day programs provide structure to the day and to meal times that many patients need to achieve recovery from bulimia but allows them to return home at night. These centers also offer the opportunity for the patient to continue attending work or school fulltime or part-time in many cases.
Inpatient Care: In this treatment setting, a patient stays at the treatment center around the clock for a certain period of time. This way, the patient is able to access support and guidance 24 hours a day. Many programs will allow a patient to move up and down in their level of care depending upon their individual progress and needs.
Residential Care: This is the most intensive treatment option available for bulimia. It is a long-term inpatient treatment option for patients who need extended help in order to reach their goal of a full recovery.
What to Expect in Eating Disorder Treatment
The treatment process includes essentially the same components for any type of eating disorder, whether its bulimia or anorexia. While the eating disorder may manifest itself in a different manner, both of these issues have both physical and mental health issues at the root.
The psychological assessment is the first step in bulimia eating disorder treatment and completed in order to determine if any other underlying mental health issues are present. For example, major depressive disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (occurs in 25 percent of bulimics), or bipolar disorder (occurs in four to 13 percent of bulimics) are all problems that will require specialized treatment on their own as well as in relation to the eating disorder. The correct protocol for treatment can be determined based on the psychological assessment.
A physical assessment is another aspect of bulimia eating disorder treatment. This is completed to determine the severity of the physical effects of bulimia
Nutritional counseling is a big part of bulimia eating disorder treatment. Here, bulimics will learn how to eat healthy meals and increase calorie intake to slowly get to a healthy weight, building meal plans based upon the caloric and food intake recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Psychological counseling addresses the bulimic’s aversion to food in addition to the underlying psychological issues that may be contributing to the eating disorder.
Goals of Therapy
No matter what course of treatment you end up choosing for bulimia, psychotherapy will play an integral role in the recovery process. To end the binging and purging cycle, a bulimic must come to understand the personal causes and motivations for their behavior. Many feelings of isolation and shame surround bulimia, and therapists will help sufferers break through these emotions and get to the root of the problem. A study published in American Family Physician 2008 Jun 1;77(11):1588, 1592, reports that some of the goals for bulimia therapy are:
- Dismantling the Dieting Mentality. Bulimia treatment challenges the patient’s dysfunctional ideas about weight and dieting. Therapy attempts to dismantle the patient’s beliefs about the effectiveness of dieting. The goal is to get the patient to truly understand balanced eating and exercise habits are the best way to a healthy body.
- Stopping the Cycle of Binging and Purging. This stage of bulimia therapy attempts to return the patient to normal patterns of eating. Patients are taught to identify situations that instigate their binging behavior and help them devise healthy stress-coping strategies that do not involve eating.
- Resolving Deeper Emotional Issues. The final goal of therapy is to help the patient come to understand the underlying emotional issues that drove them to become bulimic. Concerns over body image and low self-esteem are almost always part of the deeper problem. Also many bulimics suffer from Dual Diagnoses with other psychological disorders such as depression, anxiety or OCD.
Why They Need Help Through Treatment
Ironically, purging does not prevent weight gain from the binging that preceded it. Throwing up, even immediately after ingesting food, only removes about half of the calories that were consumed. And that number is the most that will be eliminated because typically the reduction in calories from purging is far less than half. In fact, people following this cycle of bulimia behavior tend to gain weight over time from the excessive calories that were digested.
Both laxatives and diuretics are other strategies used to rid the body of excess calories from binging. These tactics are also ineffective for the purpose for which they are used. Most of the calories in the food have already been absorbed by the digestive tract by the time laxatives are introduced. You will see the numbers on the scale drop after using laxatives and diuretics, but this is not a reflection of the amount of fat in your body. All the weight loss is almost exclusively from water being purged from your body.
Sadly, all of the ineffective methods of eliminating calories from the body cause severe injury in the long term, according to PubMed Health. The following is just a partial list of the potentially lethal damage done by the binging and purging behavior of bulimia:
- Tooth decay due to stomach acid from vomiting
- Rupturing the upper digestive tract
- Chronic hoarseness
- “Chipmunk” cheeks due to swelling from stomach acid
- Gaining weight
- Chronic bursting of blood vessels in the eye
- Infertility from loss of menstrual cycle
- Constant sore throat
Get One Step Closer
It is critical to understand the behavior associated with bulimia not only is ineffective to control weight, but actually causes possible life-threatening consequences. The only healthy choice is to work to stop the destructive thoughts and behavior that feed the cycle. Changing the behavior of bulimia is difficult, but may be one of the most important choices one can make in their life. Each of these steps will get someone closer to recovering from the devastating effects of bulimia:
- Acknowledge You Need Help. The first step in any recovery process, bulimia or otherwise, is to admit there is a problem. This will give someone permission to accept help from others who can support them on the long road to recovery
- Resolve Not to Diet. The choice to diet is actually part of the problem. Restricting calories and food choices make the desire to binge far more likely than if you strive instead to eat a healthy well-balanced diet with moderate exercise to stay fit.
- Find Professional Treatment: Seeking a quality bulimia treatment program is the most effective way to stop the cycle of bulimia. Bulimia treatment can help you to learn what is the root cause of your bulimia and develop healthy coping skills to take the place of the current damaging behavior.
Finding Quality Bulimia Help
No one should struggle with bulimia alone. The behavior is not going to “just go away” and it is not an issue of willpower. Bulimia is a potentially life-threatening disorder and those who suffer from it should seek treatment as soon as possible. If you are searching for quality licensed bulimia treatment options, please don’t hesitate to call us right now. We have a variety of bulimia treatment programs that will provide you with the highest level of care possible and we can match you with treatment that will work for you. Contact us today.