Warning Signs of Bulimia: When Your Loved One Should Seek Treatment

Even though most people have some awareness of bulimia, it’s important to remember that the signs and symptoms will often manifest themselves differently in every individual. What’s more, the secretive nature of bulimic individuals will frequently leave parents or friends unaware of the severity of their loved one’s illness for long periods of time. Remember, recognizing the early signs of an eating disorder like bulimia can prevent the development of potentially fatal health issues as well as save your loved one from years of emotional turmoil and distress.

What is Bulimia Nervosa?

Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder that involves binge eating large quantities of food in a short period of time. After a bout of binging, a person with bulimia nervosa will feel compelled to act out a compensatory behavior known as purging. This will usually result in the individual vomiting the contents of their stomach back up or abusing medication, such as laxatives or diuretics, to rid their body of food. Individuals with bulimia nervosa may also use excessive exercising to compensate for a bout of binging.

What are the Signs of Bulimia Nervosa?

No two cases of bulimia nervosa are ever the same. However, there are some common signs and symptoms of bulimia you can look out for, including:

  • Episodes of binge eating that continue after a person has admitted they are full, usually over a short period of time.
  • Unusual or suspicious behavior following meals. This could include constantly needing to use the bathroom, consuming large amounts of water or other fluids, or showering immediately after a meal.
  • Insisting on eating meals privately.
  • Secret stashes of eaten food in cupboards or under the bed.
  • Abnormal dental issues or dental decay due to high acid content – this can be an indicator of regular self-induced vomiting following a meal.
  • Post-meal over-exercising.
  • Intense fear of weight gain and/or obsessive calorie counting.
  • Social withdrawal.
  • Dramatic weight loss.

How is Bulimia Nervosa Treated?

In order to begin treatment for an eating disorder like bulimia nervosa, the patient will need to understand that they have a problem with food. When someone accepts that they are unwell, they will usually be more open to treatment.

If you believe someone you love is suffering from bulimia, you should approach the topic cautiously, with love and empathy. You may be met with some resistance or denial from your friend or family member – if this occurs, it’s doubly important that you remain there for them. Offer to always be there if they wish to talk and encourage them to seek medical help for their condition. When you or your loved one are ready to seek help, speak to a local therapist or medical professional for advice on how to begin treatment.

Sources: Walden Behavioral Care, Fairwinds Treatment Center, Eating Disorder Hope, Oliver-Pyatt Centers
Photo: Pixabay

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