Bulimia Nervosa is a life-threatening, serious eating disorder. It is defined by overeating, repetition of compensatory behavior, and excessive feat of gaining weight. The most observed repetitive behavior is self-induced vomiting, preventing the patient from gaining weight.
The symptoms of bulimia nervosa are as follows: the person mostly shows compensatory behaviors like self-induced vomiting in order to prevent weight gain frequently after eating big portions of foods. During overeating, the patients feels as if they lost control, and their self-respect highly depends on their body appearance. On the other hand, self-harming behaviors like self-cutting without the intention of committing a suicide, or substance use or impulsiveness (e.g. Risky behaviors, excessive shopping) can be observed.
Considered to have increased in the early 1990s, bulimia nervosa has been continuing with the same prevalence rate since that date. Researches show that some basic function areas of the brain are linked to the occurrence of bulimia nervosa. These areas are sensorimotor, visual, sub-cortex and limbic system. These areas are roughly related to reflexes, seeing-recognition and emotions.
Bulimia nervosa treatment
Bulimia nervosa treatment is long and difficult. Patients frequently have difficulties in fitting into the treatment as they think that the professionals are trying to make them fat. Nonetheless, the priority in the treatment is to make the physique as healthy as possible and to help the patient gain a new and proper eating habit, instead of making the patient reach a specific weight. For the past 20 years, an effective treatment has been administered through cognitive behavioral psychotherapy in company with pharmacological treatment.
A professional intervention is not enough by itself; family and friends also have a significant role in the process of recovery. In addition to the SSRI-type pharmacological treatment interventions such as, individual or group therapies, body therapies, social worker support, etc. can be implemented. Initially, the patients deny that they have a problem; they don’t want to talk about it. At this point, it is possible to calmly mention that this is a disorder and to talk about its life-threatening results and the positive aspects of the change.
The change-related fears are still intense even during the period when the patients approve that they have a problem and lean towards a treatment; resistance is possible. Perception of the function of this eating disorder in their lives in company with a psychiatrist prepares the patients for treatment. At this step, the patient wants to change but doesn’t know how to do it.
Once again, in the company of a professional team (e.g. A psychiatrist, a psychologist, a nutritionist), the patient is taught about the exercises for forming new habits, along with the methods of coping with emotions; the potential threats are determined, an action plan is made, and new areas of interest are developed. This process lasts nearly for 6 months, at the end of which the patient learns to recognize and to prevent the triggering factors forcing the patient to binge eat.