What is bulimia nervosa?
Bulimia nervosa, usually referred to as bulimia, is defined as uncontrolled episodes of overeating (bingeing) and usually followed by purging (self-induced vomiting), misuse of laxatives, enemas, or medications that cause increased production of urine, fasting, or excessive exercise to control weight. Bingeing, in this situation, is defined as eating much larger amounts of food than would normally be consumed within a short period of time (usually less than two hours). Eating binges occur at least twice a week for three months and may occur as often as several times a day.
What causes bulimia?
The cause of bulimia is not known. Factors believed to contribute to the development of bulimia include cultural ideals and social attitudes toward body appearance, self-valuation based on body weight and shape, and family problems.
Treatment for bulimia:
Specific treatment for bulimia will be determined by your physician based on:
- your age, overall health, and medical history
- extent of the symptoms
- your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
- expectations for the course of the condition
- your opinion or preference
Bulimia is usually treated with a combination of individual therapy, family therapy, behavior modification, and nutritional rehabilitation. Treatment should always be based on a comprehensive evaluation of the individual and family. Individual therapy usually includes both cognitive and behavioral techniques. Medication (usually antidepressants or antianxiety medications) may be helpful if the person with bulimia is also anxious or depressed. The frequent occurrence of medical complications during the course of rehabilitative treatment requires both your physician and a nutritionist to be active members of the management team. Families play a vital supportive role in any treatment process.