Bulimia, also known as bulimia nervosa, is an eating disorder that is characterized by uncontrolled and excessive food intake episodes. Generally, these episodes are accompanied by a subsequent provocation of vomiting or consumption of laxatives to expel food from the body, and subsequent feelings of guilt and shame.
In this sense, there are two types of bulimia nervosa: purgative and non-purgative. In the first, the person self-induces vomiting or uses laxatives or diuretics to expel the food. In the second, the individual chooses rather to fast or exercise a lot the days after the intake.
Bulimia begins to manifest between adolescence and adulthood, and affects both men and women, although the number of women who suffer from it is considerably higher, at a rate of ten women for each man.
As such, the word bulimia comes from the Greek βουλιμία (boulimía), from βούλιμος (boúlimos), which literally translates ‘hunger for ox’, but that we can understand as ‘very hungry’.
Bulimia and anorexia
Anorexia, as such, is a symptom that is characterized by the absence or lack of appetite. In this sense, it differs sharply from bulimia, which is an eating disorder that is characterized by uncontrollable cravings and episodes of excessive food intake.
On the other hand, anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that is characterized by self-induced weight loss due to a distortion of body image, and that has serious psychological and physical consequences for the health of the patient.
In this sense, a common factor between anorexia nervosa and bulimia is the distorted perception of body image, since in both cases who suffers from it feels fat or above their ideal weight, and has an obsession with lowering that attempts with Your health and psychological balance.
Causes of bulimia
Because an organic cause has not been determined, it is argued that bulimia is due, above all, to psychological causes. Mainly, the following causes are associated:
- People with low self-esteem.
- Emotional instability and emotional problems in your family environment.
- Fear of getting fat, and possessing a distorted body image.
People who suffer from bulimia undergo extremely strict and irrational diets. They obsessively seek to have an ideal weight and figure that adapt to the beauty patterns established by the media, as sentimental failures or social rejection made them believe that physical beauty was an indispensable factor in order to succeed.
Some of the symptoms that occur in people with bulimia are:
- Recurrence of episodes of excessive and uncontrolled ingestion of food, also known as binge eating.
- Behaviors such as induction of vomiting, use of laxatives or diuretics to compensate for binge eating.
- Ingestion of drugs to reduce appetite, undergo fasting, or excessive physical exercise to avoid getting fat.
- Obsession with food, uncontrollable desire to eat (mainly high-calorie foods).
- Secretism in their shame behaviors and fears associated with social sanction.
- Apathy, fatigue, irritability, sleep rhythm disturbances, etc.
Consequences of bulimia
The consequences that have to face who suffers bulimia are varied:
- Alterations associated with the induction of vomiting or the use of laxatives, which affect the digestive system: ulcers in the esophagus, stomach problems, significant loss of tooth enamel and appearance of caries. Similarly, accidental aspiration of vomiting can lead to the development of hoarseness or infections in the lungs.
- Due to the organic consequences of the purges, the individual experiences alterations in the heart rhythm, dehydration, low blood pressure, epileptic seizures, alterations at the hormonal level (irregularities in the menstrual cycle, in the case of women).
- On a psychological level, deep depressions, panic disorders, anxiety, social phobia, irritability, sleep disturbances, personality disorders and suicide attempts affect him. All this, in addition, can come accompanied with the consumption of drugs and alcohol.
- In the social sphere, the individual sees his performance deteriorate, his performance, whether at school or work level, tends to decline, which can lead to the total abandonment of obligations, including personal hygiene.
The treatment of bulimia must be multidisciplinary to deal with the physical and psychological aspects, which is why it must be accompanied by a pharmacological treatment and individual and group therapies, being the most used cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), in order to improve your self-esteem and accept yourself.