In the United States today, eating disorders have become more and more prevalent, affecting about 20 million women and 10 million men. One of the most commonly seen eating disorders is bulimia, characterized by frequent episodes of consuming large amounts of food followed by behaviors to prohibit weight gain, including vomiting and the use of laxatives. During episodes of binge eating, suffers often report feeling a loss of control. Although men do also suffer from bulimia, women are more commonly diagnosed, accounting for 80% of cases. Up to 4% of women will have bulimia in their lifetime that is considered clinically significant, and 3.9% will die from the disorder.
The eating disorder most commonly stems from self-esteem issues specifically related to body image. Bulimia is associated with various health consequences due to the stress on the body from binging and purging, including gastrointestinal, esophageal, and cardiac distress. The earlier bulimia is detected, the more likely someone will recover. Often, those suffering with bulimia are of an average weight, which may mislead loved ones into believing they do not have a problem. However, understanding the warning signs is crucial if you suspect your loved one to be suffering from bulimia. Signs include:
- Binge eating – Signs of binge eating may include the vanishing of large quantities of food in a short time frame, evidence being empty containers or wrappers hidden from sight.
- Purging – If a person is taking frequent trips to the restroom following meals, this is a red flag. Any signs of vomiting or empty packages of laxatives should cause alarm. Discoloration or staining of the teeth may indicate purging as well.
- Over-exercising with little regard for their current state or well-being, including sickness or injury.
- Socially withdrawing from family or friends.
- Loss of interest in commonly enjoyed activities.
- Behaviors indicating a preoccupation with physical appearance.
- Swelling of the checks or jaw.
- Behavior indicative of depression.
Neurofeedback can be used to treat bulimia, as neurofeedback sessions work to improve brain function. Those struggling with bulimia can lose the powerful impulsivity to binge and subsequently purge. Neurofeedback can improve depression and anxiety as a whole, leading to a happier, calmer quality of life.
First image courtesy of nenetus at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Second image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net