Bulimia Nervosa is an eating disorder that involves alternating periods of large intake of food with periods of fasting. It also frequently involves purging, either through use of laxatives or enemas or intentional vomiting.
Bulimia is closely tied to body dissatisfaction, and is approximately nine times more common in women than in men. Bulimia Nervosa produces several serious symptoms and side effects, including dehydration, inflammation of the esophagus, lacerations to the mouth and throat, tooth decay, constipation and ulcers. More difficult to detect and diagnose than anorexia because there are usually no significant changes in overall body weight and sufferers tend to be average or above average in weight, bulimia typically manifests between the ages of 13 and 20.
The treatment for Bulimia Nervosa is often a combination of psychotherapy and medication, particularly anti-depressant medications seem to be helpful. In many respects treatment for bulimia mirrors that for anorexia using one of more of cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy and dialectical behavior therapy. Some have also used hypnotherapy, although the number is too small for scientific evaluation of results. Typically a bulimic patient will also work with a nutritionist in conjunction with therapy to help establish healthy diet and eating habits. Counseling often lasts for a year or more in cases of bulimia.
Family support is vital to sufferers of Bulimia Nervosa. There are indications that bulimia is perhaps partly genetic in origin, but regardless of underlying root issues, body image, often a false or distorted body image, is at the heart of the illness. Changes in meal menus and family eating schedules can be helpful to promoting healthy food consumption for bulimics and may provide important support against the danger of relapse after treatment has concluded.
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