Find the Best Bulimia Treatment Programs and Dual Diagnosis Rehabs
Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder usually characterized by periods of binging—or excessive overeating—followed by purging. People with bulimia have a fear of gaining weight; however, that does not mean all people with bulimia are underweight. Some people with bulimia are overweight or obese. They attempt to use purging to manage their weight or prevent additional weight gain. Bulimia nervosa is a serious mental illness that requires intensive treatment. Getting help for your bulimia gives you the best chance to overcome this eating disorder.
What Are Typical Behaviors of People With Bulimia?
A person with bulimia might eat more than 2,000 calories in one sitting and then induce vomiting. Vomiting, however, is not the only method of purging. Excessive exercise, laxative use, enemas, fasting or a combination of purging methods are common alternatives to vomiting. People who binge without purging often receive the diagnosis of binge eating disorder.
What Are the Physical Dangers of Bulimia?
Frequent cycles of binging and purging put severe stress on your body. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, your heart is not built to withstand laxative use or daily vomiting. This type of stress may cause arrhythmia, heart palpitations, heart attacks or death. Repeated vomiting erodes the enamel of your teeth, leading to yellow teeth, mouth sensitivity and rapid tooth decay. For women, bulimia often causes fertility issues.
Repeated binging stretches the stomach and increases the amount of food you are able to eat; however, the human body does have a limit. In exceptional cases, binging rips the stomach lining and causes stomach acid to spill into the rest of the body, often with fatal results.
You might develop chronic, painful stomach problems as a result of bulimia. Chronic gastric reflux is a common problem for people with bulimia. Inflammation of the esophagus is also typical. Bulimia may cause gastroparesis, a partial paralyzation of your stomach muscles. It is important to note that chronic health issues do not disappear once you overcome bulimia. For example, you may suffer from gastroparesis years after your last cycle of binging and purging.
What Are the Noticeable Signs and Symptoms of Bulimia?
If you suspect a loved one has bulimia, there are certain telltale signs. A preoccupation with weight, including the fear of gaining weight, is the biggest mental indicator of bulimia. If your loved one constantly talks about weight or appearance, she might be at risk for an eating disorder.
People with bulimia often eat by themselves and hide evidence of their binges. If you notice an unusual amount of food waste and wrappers, it may be the result of a binge. People with bulimia who induce vomiting often have cuts on their hands from their fingers scraping against their teeth. They typically have small red pinprick marks on their faces as a result of burst blood vessels. After binging, people with bulimia need to purge. If your loved one spends an inordinate amount of time in the bathroom or at the gym, talk to her about her eating patterns.
Who Is at Risk of Developing Bulimia?
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 1 percent of the adult population in the United States suffers from bulimia at some point in life. Another 2.8 percent of the population experiences a binge eating disorder without purging. NIMH eating disorder statistics show that women are more likely than men to develop an eating disorder, including bulimia, binge eating disorder and anorexia. Younger women in particular are more likely to develop this mental health issue; however, bulimia affects individuals regardless of gender, age, economic status or lifestyle. All cases of bulimia are equally valid and require treatment.
What Special Problems Do People With Dual Diagnosis Bulimia Face?
A dual diagnosis means you experience substance abuse issues along with a mental illness. There are special risks and problems for people with a dual diagnosis. People with bulimia already put incredible stress on their bodies. Adding recreational drugs creates a dangerous and deadly combination. Induced vomiting combined with stimulants, such as cocaine, sometimes leads to heart attacks. Binge drinking combined with bulimia also increases the risk of heart attacks. It is dangerous to mix laxatives and weight loss drugs with recreational drugs, especially since many laxatives and weight loss drugs available online do not disclose their ingredients. This leads to dangerous and unforeseen drug interactions.
How Is Bulimia Treated?
Therapy is the first form of treatment for bulimia and binge eating disorder. By identifying your triggers, a therapist helps you manage stress and avoid the cycle of binging and purging. Group therapy is another option. The sense of community often gives you extra strength to fight your eating disorder.
Antidepressants are often prescribed to people with bulimia. Though psychiatric medications are not equally effective for everyone, some people find relief through antidepressants. For severe cases, inpatient treatment is needed to effectively address bulimia.
What Happens in Bulimia Inpatient Treatment?
The most important part of inpatient treatment is getting you medically stable. If you vomit multiple times a day, your body becomes trained to vomit after eating any amount of food. Inpatient treatment helps you manage this reflex under the eye of trained doctors.
If you have a dual diagnosis, inpatient treatment also serves as a detox facility. The medical staff ensures your body maintains its correct chemical balance while going through detox. If you are severely underweight, you receive tube feeding to become medically stable before starting the rest of your treatment.
Like inpatient treatments for other mental illnesses, bulimia inpatient treatment involves daily therapy in both individual and group settings. Bulimia and binge eating disorder treatment often focuses on specific food-related topics. You might develop meal plans to prevent yourself from beginning a binge. You might also learn new recipes and techniques for healthy eating. Some inpatient facilities even have kitchens where you are allowed to prepare your own food.
How Do You Determine the Best Inpatient Treatment Facility?
Call your insurance provider to see if any local hospitals are in-network. Most psychiatric hospitals have facilities and resources to treat people with a dual diagnosis. Consult your therapist, other members of your therapy group and online reviews to get a good idea of the quality of local hospitals.
There are also specialized treatment centers that focus solely on treating eating disorders. Though specialty centers are the most targeted and effective form of treatment, their high price tags and limited locations keep specialty centers out of reach for many people with bulimia.