Bulimia is a severe and sometimes life-threatening eating disorder. It is characterized by episodes of binge eating followed by an attempt to purge the food eaten, often by inducing vomiting. Stopping bulimia is not an easy thing to do. A caring support network, therapy, and in some cases, medication can all work together to help a person overcome bulimia.
Bulimia can have many causes. An unhealthy body image can be one reason for bulimic behavior. Often traumatic events, whether current or past, can contribute to or exacerbate bulimia, as can stress and a lack of social support.
A strong support network of friends, family, and psychological or medical professionals is one key to stopping bulimia. Friends and family must be supportive and nonjudgmental. That does not mean, however, that they should ignore or encourage bulimic behavior.
Seeking help is the first step to stopping bulimia, but it can be a difficult step to reach. Often, people suffering from bulimia feel ashamed of their behavior, which makes it difficult to reach out to those who can help. Friends and family should encourage their loved one to seek help, but also be understanding of the time and courage it may take.
Psychotherapy is one of the best treatments for bulimia. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, a type of therapy that targets negative thoughts and behaviors and replaces them with positive and helpful ones, is often effective in treating bulimia. Interpersonal psychotherapy, which focuses on building and maintaining healthy relationships, can also help a person in stopping bulimia. If a traumatic event is related to the bulimia, that can be dealt with in therapy as well. The best therapists are often the ones who use a variety of approaches and tailor their treatment to a particular client.
Often a person with bulimia will have other mental health issues that may make stopping bulimia difficult. The disorders most commonly seen with bulimia are depression and anxiety. A psychiatrist may prescribe medicine to help alleviate these disorders. Psychotherapy can also be an effective treatment.
Bulimia can have a number of consequences, such as permanent damage to the teeth, throat, and esophagus from repeated induced vomiting. Bulimia can be an addictive behavior, however, and often knowing the medical consequences is not enough to make a person stop. Once a person begins treatment, they should also seek medical care to evaluate and help with problems the bulimia may have caused.