What is Bulimia Nervosa?

What is Bulimia Nervosa?

Bulimia nervosa is a serious eating disorder that requires a comprehensive treatment program for successful recovery. Like other eating disorders, bulimia is complicated and not fully understood, but some of the contributing factors include genetics, environment, psychological, and cultural influences.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fifth Edition, bulimia nervosa is characterized by the following:

  • Recurrent episodes of binge eating (characterized by eating large amounts of food in a short period and a sense of loss of control over eating behaviors)
  • Use of inappropriate compensatory behaviors, such as self-induced vomiting, laxative or diuretic abuse, fasting and/or obsessive exercise
  • The binge eating, and compensatory behaviors occur at least once a week for three months
  • Self-evaluation is inappropriately influenced by the person’s weight and shape
  • The disturbance does not occur exclusively during episodes of anorexia nervosa

Signs and Symptoms of Bulimia Nervosa

Individuals suffering from bulimia may show several signs as a direct result of self-induced vomiting or purging, and even more so if the binge-purge cycle is repeated often. Other signs and symptoms of bulimia can include:

  • Noticeable weight fluctuations
  • Skipping meals or taking small portions of food at regular meals
  • Stealing or hoarding food in strange places
  • Drinking excess amounts of water or non-caloric beverages
  • Excessive, rigid exercise regimen
  • Unusual swelling of the cheeks or jaw area
  • Calluses on the back of the hands and knuckles
  • Discoloration or staining of the teeth
  • Creation of complex lifestyle schedules or rituals (to allow time for binge eating and purging sessions)
  • Withdrawal from friends, family, and/or activities
  • Behaviors and attitudes indicating a preoccupation with the importance of weight loss, dieting, and control of food
  • Self-evaluation is inappropriately influenced by the person’s weight and shape
  • Extreme mood swings

Health Consequences of Bulimia Nervosa

The binge-purge cycle of bulimia can damage your body, and as it worsens, the symptoms and consequences become more severe. Complications from the disorder can include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Electrolyte imbalance (can lead to irregular heartbeats and possibly heart failure and death)
  • Inflammation and/or rupture of the esophagus
  • Chronic sore throat
  • Tooth decay and/or staining
  • Chronic irregular bowel movements and constipation
  • Pancreatitis
  • Gastric rupture
  • Hair loss
  • Depression
  • Chest pain

How We Treat

Bulimia nervosa can be life-threating, but recovery is possible with a comprehensive treatment program that addresses the specific needs of the client. At River Centre, our professional treatment team works with the client and their families to customize a treatment plan. We combine evidence-based therapeutic interventions with support and individual attention to help clients address the underlying issues of their eating disorder.

Clinical treatment approaches include:

  • Enhanced Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
  • Individual Therapy
  • Group Therapy
  • Family Therapy
  • Nutritional Rehabilitation
  • Medical and Medication Services

Our treatment program offers a comprehensive spectrum of services for treating eating disorders and co-occurring conditions such as low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, OCD, and trauma. The levels of care we provide help to target the needs of our clients.

Bulimia Treatment at River Centre

You do not have to be alone in your struggle; River Centre is here for you. If you or a loved one would like more information about bulimia treatment, call us today at 866.915.8577 or complete our contact form. Our admissions team is here to assist you.

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