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Bulimia is an eating disorder characterized by excessive consumption of food in a short period of time and excessive preoccupation with weight gain, which leads to the emergence of compensatory behaviors after meals to prevent weight gain, such as forced vomiting, use of laxatives or excessive physical activity.
Most cases of bulimia occur in young women and, in addition to excessive preoccupation with weight gain, the person may also have anorexia nervosa, borderline disorder and major depressive disorder, for example.
Bulimia is a disorder that directly impacts the quality of life of the person and the family, as it generates anguish and concern due to their behavior.Therefore, it is important that when any sign indicative of bulimia is noticed, the person receives support from family members and is accompanied by a nutritionist and psychologist in order to improve their quality of life and avoid symptoms related to bulimia.
The main symptoms of bulimia are:
- Compulsive eating followed by compensatory behavior, such as going to the bathroom or inducing vomiting after a meal.
- Use regular laxatives, diuretics or appetite suppressants;
- Excessive exercise after eating too much;
- Eating large amounts of food in hiding;
- Feelings of anguish and guilt after overeating;
- Frequent sore throat;
- Recurrent appearance of dental caries;
- Worn teeth;
- Callosity on the back of the hand;
- Abdominal pain and inflammation in the gastrointestinal system often;
- Irregular menstruation.
In addition, it is also possible for the person to present signs and symptoms of dehydration and malnutrition, which occurs as a consequence of habits related to the disorder, in addition to depression, irritability, anxiety, low self-esteem and excessive need to control calories.
In bulimia, the person usually has the appropriate weight or is slightly overweight for the age and height, unlike what happens in anorexia, which is also an eating and psychological disorder, however the person is underweight. normal weight for age and height and is usually seen as overweight, which leads to dietary restrictions. Learn how to differentiate between bulimia and anorexia.
Bulimia does not have a defined cause, however its occurrence is often related to the cult of the body, which can be directly influenced by the media or the behavior of family and close friends, for example.
Because of this, many times the person interprets that the body they have is not ideal and they start to "blame" them for their unhappiness, thus, they avoid weight gain as much as possible. For this, they usually eat what they want, but soon after, due to the feeling of guilt, they end up eliminating so that there is no weight gain.
Complications of Bulimia
Complications of bulimia are related to the compensatory behaviors presented by the person, that is, with the attitudes they take after eating, such as forced vomiting or the use of laxatives, for example. Thus, the possible complications of bulimia are:
- Reflux and stomach sores;
- Swelling in the cheeks;
- Deterioration of teeth;
- Chronic constipation;
- Absence of menstruation or change in menstrual cycle;
- Depression and mood swings;
- Intestinal inflammation.
Thus, to avoid the development of complications, it is important that bulimia is identified and treated according to the orientation of the psychologist, psychiatrist and nutritionist.
How is the treatment
Due to the fact that bulimia is a psychological and eating disorder, it is important that the person has the follow-up of a psychologist and a nutritionist, mainly, so that food reeducation is initiated and the development of a more he althy with food to avoid compensatory behaviors.
Furthermore, it is often necessary to take vitamin and mineral supplements, as well as some antidepressant and/or anti-vomiting medication. In severe cases it may even be necessary to stay in hospital or in clinics specialized in the treatment of eating disorders.
Carrying out therapy is important so that the psychologist can identify the person's behavior and suggest ways to make the person think differently to face situations and feelings that may be related to bulimia, as well as be important to establish body awareness strategies and to avoid compensatory behaviors.
In addition, therapy sessions are also aimed at understanding the patient's personal relationships or difficult moments such as loss of loved ones or major changes in personal or professional life, in order to strengthen relationships with family and friends., which can provide support to overcome bulimia.
Therapy sessions should be held 1 to 2 times a week and group therapy may also be indicated, as in this situation other people who also have bulimia or who have already been treated can participate and share their experiences, promoting empathy and encouraging treatment.
2. Nutritional monitoring
Nutritional monitoring is fundamental in the treatment of bulimia and is done in order to clarify doubts about food and food calories, showing how to make he althy food choices to favor weight control or loss without putting he alth at risk, in addition to encouraging a he althy relationship with food.
In this way, the nutritionist prepares a food plan for the person, respecting their preferences and lifestyle, and that promotes the correct development and proper functioning of the organism. In addition, the food plan is also made taking into account any nutritional deficiency, and in some cases the use of vitamin and mineral supplements may be indicated, for example.
The use of medication is only indicated when during therapy the psychologist sees signs that bulimia is related to another psychological disorder, such as depression or anxiety, for example. In these cases, the person is referred to a psychiatrist so that a new evaluation can be carried out and the most appropriate medication can be indicated.
It is important that the person uses the medication according to the psychiatrist's recommendation, as well as having regular consultations, so that the response to the treatment can be verified and adjustments can be made to the medication doses.