Bulimia is an Eating Disorder that refers to eating an atypical or unusually large amount of food in a short period of time. This is usually accompanied by a feeling that there is a lack of control over eating during the episode. The binge eating is then also accompanied by inappropriate compensatory behaviors such as self-induced vomiting, misuse of medications (such as laxatives or diuretics), fasting or excessive exercising. This cycle occurs on average of at least once a week. There is a feeling of loss of control, oftentimes described as an inability to refrain from eating or to stop eating after starting. Binge eating and compensatory methods, especially purging, occurs in secrecy and continues usually until the person is painfully full. A hallmark of bulimia is placing excessive emphasis on one’s weight and shape to define one’s self-esteem, despite the fact that the person with bulimia maybe at an appropriate weight or maybe even overweight. Bulimia commonly begins in adolescence or young adulthood and can last for several years. Oftentimes there are associated medical abnormalities that can occur. Treatment usually uses a combination of individual therapy (including CBT, interpersonal and DBT treatment), and relearning good nutritional habits while working on self-esteem issues in more healthy resilient ways.
Proper help for a person with anorexia can make a difference. Professional treatment should be sought when the eating behaviors begin having a destructive impact on physical and mental health. Individuals with anorexia may be resistant to seeking treatment, but families should be firmly encouraging and supportive in getting therapy started as soon as possible.
At Silber Psychological Services, we have therapists who have extensive experience in the treatment of eating disorders. A thorough evaluation and accurate diagnosis is the first step. When treatment is recommended, establishment of normal weight and truly healthy, balanced eating patterns are the first priorities. Psychological, social and any family issues which may also be in existence are subsequently addressed.
The therapist helps the client replace destructive and unhealthy thoughts, behaviors and coping strategies with positive and healthy ones. Therapists can also help family members to better understand the client’s disorder and learn new techniques for responding. A multidisciplinary team may often be needed to provide the best treatment results. Individual Therapy, Family Therapy, and Group Therapy often occur simultaneously. Some clients may benefit from medication and/or consultation with a specialized nutritionist. The process of recovery is usually long-term, difficult and fraught with complications, but the journey back to health can be enormously gratifying for the client and family.