Bulimia Nervosa

A variation of Anorexia, Bulimia ranges from
excessive food intake, to an out of control
compulsive cycle of binge eating where
extraordinary amounts of any available food,
usually of high carbohydrate content, may be
consumed. Once having gorged, the victims are
overcome with the urge to rd themselves of what
they hate eaten by purging themselves, usually by
vomiting, and sometimes by massive doses of
laxatives. Between these obsessive bouts, most
are able to accept some nutrition. Whereas the
anorexic sufferer fears fatness from anticipated
loss of eating control, and unlike the anorexic
sufferer the typical bulimic individual is not
emaciated, but usually maintains a normal body
weight and appears to be fit and healthy.
However, the obsessive binge purge cycle causes
them deep distress, shame, guilt, self-loathing and
social isolation, and many will go to any lengths to
hide their “shameful” secret from the family and
friends. Typical Sufferers The anorexic or bulimic
may be either sex, but the smaller percentage is in
males. However the male percentage is on the
increase. Most sufferers come from middle and
upper income families, and are usually highly
intelligent. Anorexic and bulimic people are often
perfectionists, with unrealistically high
expectations. They frequently lack self-esteem,
with their feelings of ineffectiveness and a strong
need for other peoples’ approval. Causes There is
at present no generally accepted view of the
causes of anorexia or bulimia. Most authorities
believe the problem to be psychologically based,
possibly stemming from family and social
pressures, or other forms of stress in our modern
environment. Where a high value is placed on
slim-ness, women are most likely to be judged on
their appearance, against a heavy background of
high carbohydrate junk food promotion. Often, the
illness is triggered by a major change in the
person’s life. Age and Extent Anorexia tends to
start in early the early teens, whereas bulimia
usually occurs in the late teens and older age
groups. Sometimes bulimia develops out of
anorexia, but can occur without a previous history
of anorexia. It often persists over many years. It is
known girls as young as 8 years of age had
displayed an unhealthy pre-occupation with
dieting. The full extent of the problem is not
known, but estimates very from one in every
hundred school girls with anorexia, to six percent
of Australian women with bulimia. Since bulimia is
not a physically obvious condition, the numbers
could be far higher. Social Isolation People who
have anorexia or bulimia have probably been
feeling isolated and friendless for a long time. This
may have been one of the factors contributing to
their belief that they are essentially unacceptable
people. However, the condition itself increases
social isolation. Sufferers dare not let people get
too close to them in case their real self, which they
dislike, is discovered. They cannot tolerate any
disruption of their rigid daily routine, which often
includes long periods of physical exercise designed
to keep weight down, fixed eating times, and
carefully hidden arrangements for bingeing and
purging. Shared meals and social occasions are
shunned for fear of exposing the problem. For the
same reason, sufferers will often reject offers of
help. All this leads to increased social isolation.
Money Problems The self-starvation/bingeing
pattern of eating can be paralleled by attitudes to
money and things that money can buy. Some
sufferers become extremely thrifty, only buying
what can be justified as an absolute necessity.
Some, just as with overeating, may overspend,
and get into debt. Some will, after long periods of
self-denial, possibly start pilfering from family and
friends, or perhaps become involved in shoplifting.
Psychological Effects In addition to isolation, the
victims suffer from self-disgust, guilt and shame,
fear of change, and feelings of inadequacy and
rejection. They are lonely, desperate and
depressed, and may consider suicide as the only
way to end the nightmare. Physical Effects
Anorexia and bulimia are serious disorders, which
in extreme cases can result in death. Among
known adverse physical effects are: ? Loss of
menstruation ? Breathing discomfort ?
Constipation ? Loss of sex-drive ? Low blood
sugar ? Receding gums and rotting teeth ?
Dizziness ? Lack of protein leading to edema, loss
of hair and teeth, and growth of downy hair on
face and elsewhere ? Intestinal infection ?
Hypoglycemia ? Ruptured stomach and esophagus
? Chronic sinusitis ? Kidney damage ? Severe
dehydration ? Bleeding and infection of the throat
? Gastritis ? Ulcers ? Abnormal metabolism ?
Vaginal nerve block ? Rupturing of internal
membranes ? Bowel tumors ? Mega colon ?
Severe electrolyte imbalance which can lead to
neuromuscular problems, including muscle spasms
and cardiac arrest ? Ruptured facial blood vessels
Treatments Contact casualty at major public
hospitals in emergencies. Sufferers of both
anorexia and bulimia need to realize that they have
a serious problem, and require encouragement to
take personal responsibility in seeking help. They
must learn to accept their strengths, weaknesses,