Battling Bulimia: Awareness
School: Louisville Collegiate School Class: Medical Problem Solving II
What is Bulimia?
Bulimia is a serious eating disorder often found by binge eating and then purging afterwards (or using other methods of avoiding weight gain). Bulimia is a mental illness that often begins in the late teens or early adulthood that requires treatment. People with bulimia believe that they need to excessively manage their weight; however, not all people with bulimia are underweight.
There are 2 type of bulimia: purging bulimia and nonpurging bulimia. Purging bulimia involves methods like forced vomiting or use of laxatives after binging. Nonpurging bulimia involved methods like fasting, excessive exercise, or strict dieting to limit weight gain.
The first video above explains and teaches about bulimia nervosa. The second video above gives an idea of what people with eating disorders experience.
Signs and Symptoms*
Bulimia signs and symptoms may include:
- being preoccupied with your body shape and weight
- living in fear of gaining weight
- feeling that you can’t control your eating behavior
- eating until the point of discomfort or pain
- eating much more food in a binge episode than in a normal meal or snack
- forcing yourself to vomit or exercise too much to keep from gaining weight after bingeing
- misusing laxatives
- diuretics or enemas after eating
- restricting calories or avoiding certain foods between binges
- using dietary supplements or herbal products excessively for weight loss
* if you or someone else you know if having or showing symptoms of bulimia that you seek medical attention as soon as possible. If bulimia is left untreated, it can severely impact your health and lifestyle
The exact cause of bulimia is unknown.
Some causes of bulimia are thought to be:
- emotional health
- societal expectations
- stressful life changes
- history of abuse or trauma
- negative body image
- poor self-esteem
- professions or activities that focus on appearance/performance
The picture above describes the effects that bulimia has on the body
In the video above, Michelle and Internist Dr. Jorge Rodriguez join The Doctors to discuss how Michelle’s addiction has affected her health.
The infographic above gives scary and eye-opening facts about eating disorders
- People with bulimia are often normal weight or even overweight
- Approximately 1 in 10 people with bulimia receive treatment
- There is an increased risk of suicide among those with bulimia nervosa
- 30-70% of those with bulimia also have an addictive disorder
- Self-harm is a common related condition affecting 34% of those with bulimia
- 5% of American women suffer from bulimia nervosa in their lifetime
Awareness about bulimia is severely lacking in our society. There is often the idea that all eating disorders have to do with food, appearance, or beauty, when in reality, eating disorders are a complex medical and mental condition. There is not enough education about these types of issues. Many people do not even know the difference between anorexia and bulimia; many also believe that all people struggling with an eating disorder are skinny, which is not the case. If we educate more people on the issue of bulimia and other eating disorders, it might help dispel the myths surrounding the issue as well as decrease stigma and encourage treatment.
How to Raise Awareness
Posters containing information and statistics about eating disorders and bulimia could be placed in places like schools. These posters could also have ways to spot someone struggling from an eating disorder; it would also be very important for “next step” information (such as therapy options or a hotline) on the poster in case the reader of the poster needed some professional aid.
All of the infographics above give statistics, consequences, symptoms, and warning signs of eating disorders
As well as posters, speakers could go to school and share their story about overcoming an eating disorder, or the could even simply just talk to the students in hopes of spreading awareness. Eating disorder walks could also be organized in hopes of funding programs that help treat and aid people struggling from an eating disorder.
What is Next?
Change in School
Many people that might have bulimia (or other eating disorders) might not want to ask for help or talk to someone about their issues. I believe that it would be useful to train school counselors to help notice signs of eating disorders (not just physical signs) as well as educate them more in the treatment/recovery process.
Aids and Hotlines
Crisis Call Center
800-273-8255 or text ANSWER to 839863
Crisis Text Line (U.S. only)
Text HELLO to 741741 or message us at facebook.com/CrisisTextLine to chat with a Crisis Counselor
Call or text 919-231-4525 or 1-877-235-4525
Kids Help Phone (Canada only)
National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Eating Disorders
National Eating Disorders Association
Ontario Online and Text Crisis and Distress Service (ONTX)
Text 741741 from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily
Twenty-four hour distress and crisis lines: 416-408-HELP (4357)
(310) 855-HOPE (4673)
(800) TLC-TEEN (852-8336) (U.S. and Canada only)
Or text TEEN to 839863
Thursday’s Child National Youth Advocacy Hotline
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