Have you ever wondered what bulimia is like? Maybe it is because you are just curious to find out more about this condition, or perhaps you are worried that you might be affected. Either way, what you should know is that bulimia is a serious mental health condition and it can have a very severe impact on the quality of life of those affected.

Bulimia is a type of eating disorder where large quantities of food may be eaten in one sitting; this is known as a binge. After bingeing, those affected will feel the need to get rid of the excess calories that you have consumed, or ‘purge’ themselves. They might do this by making themselves vomit, exercise excessively, or take laxatives.

Are You Affected by Bulimia?

It can be hard to come to terms with the fact that you may have an eating disorder such as bulimia. However, if you are caught in a cycle of bingeing and purging, you could very well have a problem that requires attention.

There are other things that you should look out for if you are worried that you might have bulimia. Knowing what bulimia is like can help you to figure out if you have a problem that is serious enough to warrant professional help. For example, do you:

  • constantly think about your weight or body shape?
  • have a fear of gaining weight?
  • exercise too much?
  • isolate yourself from others so that you do not have to eat with them?
  • eat copious quantities of food when you are alone?
  • suffer from low self-esteem?
  • have no interest in doing things that you used to enjoy?
  • feel helpless?
  • suffer from poor sleep patterns?

If you can relate to a few or more of the above then it may be the case that your eating habits have become a problem.

What Problems Does Bulimia Cause?

When thinking about what bulimia is like, many people assume that it is not a serious problem because those affected tend to neither gain or lose weight. This can be true for some individuals, but not always. Many people will suffer from more than one eating disorder at the same time or will progress from one to another. Regardless though, bulimia is a serious problem in and of itself.

There are several short- and long-term effects associated with bulimia, and it can have a deep emotional impact as well. Below are some of the physical health problems associated with this illness:

  • Sore throat
  • Fatigue
  • Bloating
  • Constipation
  • Teeth problems
  • Dehydration
  • Swollen glands
  • Heart problems
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Menstrual problems
  • Brittle bones
  • Muscle spasms
  • Loss of libido.

If bulimia is left untreated, it can result in long-term problems with the heart, kidney, throat, stomach, and intestines. You might suffer mental health problems such as depression or anxiety, which may then lead to self-harming or self-medicating with mood-altering substances such as alcohol or drugs.

As you become increasingly isolated in an attempt to hide your secret from those around you, you might notice that your relationships with others begin to suffer. Your friends and loved ones will not understand the change in you and may find it difficult to pinpoint what the problem is, particularly in the early days when your weight is remaining stable.

Nevertheless, as time goes by, the physical impact of bulimia will be harder and harder to hide and the people you love will notice that something is not right with you.

Who Does Bulimia Affect?

The question of what bulimia is like often leads many to ask who is affected by this condition; the majority assume it is something that only happens to teenage girls. This is not true. Bulimia is a mental health disorder that is not reserved for females or individuals of a certain age.

The reality is that anyone can be affected by bulimia, no matter what age they are or what gender. Race, religion, wealth status, and geographical location also play no role when it comes to this illness developing.

Although bulimia is a condition that manifests itself through control of food, it is not always about the food itself. For many affected people, it is a mental health problem that is more about the ability to control something. Some individuals live lives where they feel as though they have little to no control and the one thing they can exert some control over is how and when they eat.

There is usually an underlying problem that leads to the condition developing; it is this that must be addressed during a treatment programme. What you should know is that the cause of bulimia will not be the same for everyone.

Genetic predisposition is said to be the cause of eating disorders in some. Therefore, if you have a parent with an eating disorder, for example, you might be more likely to be affected yourself. It is also thought that an imbalance of chemicals in the brain can lead to problems such as bulimia in some people.

Nonetheless, there are social causes too. For instance, those who suffered emotional trauma in early life may have a higher chance of developing an eating disorder such as bulimia. Being bullied, abused, or neglected as a child can lead to emotional problems, which could then result in disordered eating.

The environment can also be a contributing factor for some individuals too. Those who are involved in hobbies or jobs where a certain body shape or weight is required may suffer from bulimia. So if you are a jockey, ballet dancer, athlete, or model, you may be under pressure to look a certain way, possibly leading to conditions such as bulimia.

How to Get Help for Bulimia

Now that you know what bulimia is like, if you suffer from it then it is important that you seek help as soon as possible. As bulimia is a mental health problem, it is highly likely that you will require some sort of treatment to get better. The issues that have led to your distorted eating habits need to be addressed so that they do not cause more problems in the future.

You might want to speak to your GP in the first instance. He or she will ask questions about your eating habits and behaviours to decide if a problem exists. If your doctor believes that you do have bulimia, you will be referred to a treatment service.

However, you might have to wait for quite a while for this initial appointment because of the pressures that are being placed on the NHS at the moment. Unfortunately, departments such as mental health are severely underfunded and those affected are often facing lengthy delays for treatment.

If you are worried that you have bulimia and would like immediate help, you can call us here at Recovery Lighthouse. We are a private clinic specialising in mental health conditions and addiction. We have a team of experts with knowledge and experience of helping people with eating disorders such as bulimia, and we can answer any questions you might have.

If you call us today, you will speak to one of our fully trained advisors who will be able to assess your situation to determine how serious it is and the type of treatment you might need.

How is Bulimia Treated?

Although bulimia is a type of food addiction, it is not possible to aim for abstinence as would be the case with other addictions. You cannot simply go without food, so treatment is all about learning how to develop a healthy relationship with it.

During treatment for bulimia, you will work with counsellors and therapists who will attempt to help you identify the negative thought processes that have thus far driven your behaviour. It is vital that you get to the heart of the problem so that you can deal with it effectively to prevent it causing a return to your maladaptive behaviour in the future.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), is commonly used to treat conditions such as bulimia. CBT is a talking and behavioural therapy that will help you to first identify your negative thoughts and then challenge them. You will also learn new positive ways to cope with stressful situations.

Individual and group counselling is likely to form a large part of any treatment programme for bulimia. Moreover, once your treatment is finished, you will probably be advised to attend support groups that will help you to sustain your recovery going forward.

For more information on what bulimia is like and how you can overcome it, please contact us here at Recovery Lighthouse. We can advise you on the best course of action to help you get better. Furthermore, if you would like to know more about our programmes and how to access them, we can give you information on the next steps to take.