Bulimia nervosa, or simply bulimia, is an eating disorder in which a person binge eats and then purges the food. While induced vomiting is the method most people associate with bulimia, people with this condition may also take laxatives. In addition, as we explain to people at our Bulimia recovery center in California, they may attempt to lose weight by using diuretics or stimulants, through water fasting, or by exercising excessively.
A Difficult Disorder to Recognize
Because people with bulimia tend to be very secretive about their behavior, and because it doesn’t always or immediately result in dramatic weight loss, it can be difficult to detect that anything is wrong. However, there are a number of warning signs that, especially when seen together, are strong indicators that the person has the condition. They include:
- Distorted body image
- Fixation on their weight
- Obsession with the number of calories consumed
- Frequent consumption of large portions of food
- Frequent trips to the bathroom, especially during or immediately after a meal
- Use of laxatives or diet pills
- Low energy
- Unhealthy skin, hair, nails, lips
- Raspy voice
- Swollen salivary glands
- Damage to tooth enamel
- Low blood pressure
- Talk of self-harm or suicide
- Irregular menstrual cycle in women
- Anxiety disorders, depression, and sleep disorders
- Food hiding or hoarding behavior
People with bulimia also tend to avoid brightly colored or revealing clothing that would draw attention to them.
Talking to a Loved One You Suspect Has Bulimia
In talking with someone who you suspect has bulimia, the key, as with any eating disorder or mental health disorder, is to do it privately and caringly. If you are especially close to the person, you may feel betrayed by their secretive behaviors or hurt that they didn’t turn to you for help. However, you need to keep those feelings to yourself when you first approach the person. There will be time to address those emotions later.
At our bulimia treatment center in California, we emphasize that you need to express unconditional love, understanding, and a willingness to support the person when they are ready to seek help. And while you will, of course, want them to get counseling and treatment immediately, it’s likely they will need some time to prepare to tackle the disorder, do patience is important.
If you or someone you know is struggling with bulimia, call us at 916-784-1120 to learn about our programs.