Bulimia Nervosa: Types, Causes, Symptoms And Treatment


Bulimia nervosa is a Eating Disorder whose main characteristic is that the person engages in recurrent binge eating followed by inappropriate compensatory behaviors to control weight (self-induced vomiting, excessive use of laxatives and enemas, diuretics, fasting, exercising compulsively, etc.), having the feeling of losing control over food intake (not being able to control the amount or type of food one is eating) and extreme concern about one’s figure and body weight.

This disease begins when the person decides to lose weight due to the dissatisfaction he feels with his body. In most cases, you start a diet and do not obtain the desired results and vomiting is presented as a perfect idea to eat without gaining weight. Bulimia nervosa affects women more than men and generally begins in late adolescence or early adulthood. In this PsychologyFor article we are going to learn in more depth about the Bulimina nervosa: types, causes, symptoms and treatment.

Types of bulimia nervosa

We will begin this article by talking about the types of bulimia nervosa that exist. You have to know that, mainly, there are two:

  • Purgative: The person uses provocation of vomiting, excessive use of laxatives, diuretics or enemas as a compensatory method.
  • Not purgative: The person resorts to compensatory methods such as intense physical exercise or fasting but does not induce vomiting or use excessive diuretics, laxatives or enemas.

Symptoms of bulimia nervosa

There are some physical, emotional and behavioral signs and symptoms that indicate that a person may have bulimia nervosa. In many cases it can be difficult to distinguish whether it is a bulimia or anorexia nervosa because both diseases have many similarities.

Two of the main similarities they present is that They affect women much more than men and that there is a great obsession with thinness so they try to control body weight through different harmful methods. It is worth mentioning that it is necessary that the diagnosis be made by a professional.

Between the signs and symptoms of bulimia nervosa the following are found:

  • Excessive fear of weight gain
  • Dissatisfaction with body shape and weight
  • Eating quickly and excessively in a very short period of time (binge eating)
  • Excessive use of laxatives, enemas, or diuretics after eating
  • Inducing vomiting after each binge eating
  • Do intense exercise, especially after eating to burn calories
  • Worn tooth enamel due to constant contact of teeth with stomach acid
  • Sudden changes in body weight
  • Sore throat caused by self-induced vomiting
  • Feeling out of control
  • Depression and constant mood swings
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck and face
  • puffy cheeks
  • Irregular menstruation
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Reflux and indigestion
  • Low self-esteem

Bulimia nervosa: causes

The exact cause is unknown of this condition, but there is much research that suggests that it is the interaction of multiple factors and different processes in constant interaction, it is not a unitary phenomenon. The factors involved in causing this disorder can be classified as:

Predisposing factors

They make people show more vulnerability to developing a certain type of disease through the combination of individual, family and social characteristics. Among the predisposing factors are the following:

  • Individual factors: Certain personality traits are related to this condition, such as low self-esteem, lack of autonomy, immaturity, perfectionism, shyness, depressive traits and obsessive-compulsive behavior.
  • Family factors: Common characteristics in the family of people with this condition. Some of them are difficulty in resolving conflicts, overprotection on the part of parents, poor communication between family members, a history of eating disorders in brothers or sisters, having suffered mistreatment or sexual abuse, family members who have suffered from depression. and alcoholism.

Precipitating factors

They cause the disease to be triggered at a certain time or in the face of a certain type of circumstances that can become stressful. Among these factors are the following:

  • The changes of puberty
  • A previous somatic illness
  • Starting a diet to lose weight
  • Intense physical exercise
  • Receiving negative comments from family and/or friends due to weight gain
  • Important life experiences, such as: change of residence, separation of parents, death of a loved one, birth of a sibling, etc.
  • The first sexual experiences

Maintenance factors

They make bulimina nervosa is maintained and lasts over time. This mainly has to do with the physical and emotional consequences of poor diet. Among these factors we can find the following:

  • Lack of social contact (the person tends to become increasingly isolated due to their physical and emotional problems) and this causes them to focus more on food, thinness and weight loss
  • Psychological consequences of starvation
  • Purgative methods, because of the security it gives you knowing you can avoid gaining weight after a binge
  • A society that places a very high value on thinness

Consequences of bulimia nervosa

The consequences of this type of condition vary depending on the length of time it has persisted and the severity of the symptoms presented by each person. This disease can reach cause irreversible effects to the person and can even cause death if not treated appropriately, taking into account that the sooner it is treated, the better the results.

Some consequences that come with it bulimia nervosa, are the following:

  • Dental caries
  • Rupture of the stomach and esophagus
  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • Dehydration
  • Depression
  • Increased risk of suicide
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Cardiovascular disorders that in severe cases can cause cardiac arrest
  • Decreased libido
  • Renal problems
  • Growth stunting
  • Osteoporosis
  • Constipation

Treatment of bulimia nervosa

It is essential to overcome bulimia nervosa to begin with a comprehensive treatment plan where different disciplines intervene, taking into account the individual situation and the severity of the disease. Treatment is aimed at treating reestablish normal eating patterns and to treat psychological problems.

Below are the different strategies that are used to treat bulimia:

  • Psychotherapy: It is necessary for the person to begin psychological treatment in order to alleviate the symptoms of bulimia as well as the various emotional problems and/or disorders related to the disease. The therapy that has shown the best results is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which is mainly responsible for modifying negative thoughts and beliefs towards food and changing them for healthier and more adaptive ones. It is worth mentioning that on some occasions, especially if it is a teenager and/or a minor, the family must also intervene and attend psychotherapy sessions to help them deal with this illness and better support the person. person who suffers from it.
  • Medicines: For the treatment of this disease, the use of drugs such as antidepressants is common. Those used to treat this type of disorder are the so-called SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor), which are very helpful in combination with psychotherapy.
  • Medical assistance and nutrition: It is necessary that the person, according to their individual needs and under the supervision of doctors, nutritionists and various health professionals, begin to follow an eating plan in order to achieve a healthy weight.
  • Hospitalization: In some cases it is necessary, especially if the disease is already very advanced and other serious health complications have arisen.

Bulimia nervosa: types, causes, symptoms and treatment - Treatment of bulimia nervosa

This article is merely informative, at PsychologyFor we do not have the power to make a diagnosis or recommend a treatment. We invite you to go to a psychologist to treat your particular case.

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