Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia nervosa repeats a frequent cycle that involves eating unusually large amounts of food, followed by purging (self-induced vomiting), fasting, laxative abuse, excessive exercise, and/or other compensatory behaviors. Over time, the physically damaging effects of bulimia mirror its intense emotional toll. The Emily Program can help you or your loved one break the cycle.

The Shame that Accompanies Bulimia Nervosa

Outward appearances often disguise the secret lives of people who struggle with bulimia nervosa. Those struggling with bulimia often weigh within or slightly above the normal range for their age. Yet, they typically harbor deep fears of weight gain or they desperately seek weight loss. They feel unhappy about their body size and shape—even as they binge on thousands of calories in a single episode.

People with bulimia try to compensate for gorging by ridding themselves of the excess food, sometimes privately vomiting multiple times a day. They may purchase laxatives from multiple stores to “stock up” for their uncontrolled eating episodes. Sometimes they can’t afford the laxatives or their preferred binge food, and they want to hide the expenditures from a parent or spouse, so they steal instead. All of this secrecy amplifies their feelings of disgust, guilt, or shame. The Emily Program can help you or your loved one break this vicious cycle.

Bulimia Nervosa Warning Signs

  • Frequently and repetitively eating large quantities of food, especially sweets
  • Uncontrolled eating, particularly after a restrictive diet or in response to a stressful or negative situation
  • Compensatory behavior to offset weight gain such as vomiting, laxatives, fasting or over-exercising
  • Leaving for the bathroom immediately after eating
  • Swollen cheeks from self-induced vomiting
  • Yellow, sensitive, slightly pointed teeth, often with receding gum lines
  • Skin sores or gray or brown skin spots
  • Broken blood vessels in the eyes
  • Excessive talk about weight
  • Dissatisfaction with body image, size, or shape
  • Misuse of diuretics, diet pills, or laxatives
  • Feeling out of control, depressed, or anxious

Dentists may first notice signs of bulimia nervosa, because repetitive vomiting permanently erodes tooth enamel and discolors teeth. Bulimia causes damage to the esophagus, kidneys, stomach, intestines, lung, and heart, too. This eating disorder may also disrupt normal bowel function, cause electrolyte imbalances, and pose other serious and life-threatening health conditions.

Read more about the physical effects of bulimia here

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Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa twists perception. It convinces people to see themselves as overweight, even when they are starved or malnourished. Eating, food, and weight control become obsessions. Tragically, anorexia nervosa is among the most deadly of all mental illnesses.

The Frightening Truth About Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by abnormally low body weight caused by malnourishment. A person struggling with anorexia nervosa often has a distorted perception of their weight and an intense fear of gaining weight. Although diet programs may be the “gateway” to the condition, the diet itself is not responsible for the onset of an eating disorder. Anorexia nervosa is not a choice, a fad, or a phase. It’s a painful internal emotion of fear associated both with food and with the perception of one’s own body.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, people with anorexia nervosa are up to ten times more likely to die as a result of their illness compared to those without the condition. Complications from starvation, such as cardiac arrest, organ failure, electrolyte and fluid imbalances, and suicide claim the lives of adolescents and adults every year.

Anorexia Nervosa Warning Signs

People with anorexia nervosa typically weigh themselves repeatedly, portion food carefully, and eat small quantities of a narrow variety of foods. Anxiety, depression, or difficulty concentrating may also accompany these warning signs:

  • Relentless pursuit of thinness
  • Unwillingness to maintain a healthy weight
  • Extremely disturbed eating behavior
  • Distortion of body image
  • Intense fear of gaining weight
  • Over-exercise
  • Misuse of diuretics, diet pills, or laxatives

Anorexia nervosa can start as early as age 8 and as late as middle age, but its onset is most common around or just after puberty. Adults are likely to experience a dramatic drop in weight, while adolescents or children may fail to gain weight and slip from their expected weight-growth pattern. By definition, individuals with anorexia nervosa are below normal weight standards.

Females often experience either a delay in starting menstruation or a loss of menstrual functioning (amenorrhea). Other medical conditions may also be present, such as anemia, dry skin and scalp, osteoporosis, lowered body temperature and blue fingertips, and slow thinking due to brain shrinkage.

Everything in the person’s regular daily life suffers as the condition controls thoughts and behaviors. Family ties, friendships, romantic relationships, schoolwork or career—they’re all jeopardized by the condition. The joy of life wilts under its stress.

Read more about the physical effects of anorexia here

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