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Eating disorders are not new to India. It has existed for years in this country. But to lack of awareness, it has caught an eye fairly recently. Despite the lack of sufficient data available for bulimia, it is said to plague many people in India.
Various studies found that ED affects 25-40% of the girls and 20% of boys in India. Though the data available is not from any official body, it gives a rough idea about the percentage of the population suffering from this disorder.
Anyone can suffer from it, but it mostly affects young girls and adults. But what exactly is it? Let's understand that first.

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Mental Health Care for Bulimic Behaviors

Bulimia is a potentially life-threatening eating disorder. It involves the person having episodes of bingeing followed by taking steps to avoid gaining weight. The most common method used is vomiting, also known as purging. It involves an extreme obsession with your food and body image.
This disorder involves a constant struggle of bingeing large amounts of food at once and then trying to rid oneself of it through purging. This occurs as a result of guilt or shame. The person feels guilty about consuming a large quantity of food so, they try to offset it by using highly unhealthy measures like forced vomiting, extremely rigorous exercise, laxatives, using diuretics, etc.
A person struggling with this condition often criticizes themselves for their body weight and mostly self-perceived flaws. They are usually normal weight but can be overweight as well.

Major Causes

Though the exact cause of this condition is unknown, a few factors are linked to it. According to researchers, here are a few major factors that contribute to it:
  • Biology - Some researchers have linked this disorder to genetic material and biological factors. These include:
    • Having a history of this disorder or other eating disorders in the family
    • Having a history of mental health disorders/ substance abuse in the family
    • Having difficulty with impulse control
    • Having a genetic predisposition of binge-eating
    • Having a sensitivity toward the food reward system
  • Dieting culture - Dieting culture plays a vital role in many eating disorders. . These include:
    • Dissatisfaction with their body weight/ shape/ size
    • Having a negative body image
    • Having a history of dieting behavior
    • Having a history of dieting and binging behavior
    • Having a convoluted image of your body
  • Psychology - Psychological factors also play a pivotal role in deciding if a person will suffer from it or not. These factors include:
    • Having a history of mental health disease and diagnosis
    • Having a history of abuse or trauma
    • Having a negative body image
    • Having low self-esteem
    • Having a job that focuses too much on your looks and appearances, like the modeling and acting industry, etc.
    • Having trouble regulating emotions

Common Warning Signs

Diagnosing this mental health disorder can be tricky. Why? Because the person suffering from it tends to be highly secretive about it and hide it from their friends and family.
However, there are certain warning signs that can alert you if you or someone you know may be struggling with this eating disorder.
These are some of the common warning signs:
  • Regular episodes of binging
  • Regular episodes of purging
  • Regular episodes of self-induced vomiting
  • Excessive usage of laxatives and diuretics
  • Negative association with one's body image
  • Complaining about your body all the time
  • Having a shame/ guilt related to eating
  • Suffering from depression
  • Being irritable
  • Feeling withdrawn from friends and family
  • Having scars on hands and knuckles
  • Having puffy cheeks
  • Drastic changes in weight
  • Feeling uncomfortable dining with other people
  • Consuming excessive amounts of fluids
  • Hiding food in weird places
  • Feeling bloated due to water retention
These are some of the signs you need to look for in a person who may be suffering from this condition. Once you spot these signs, you will want to reach out for help as soon as possible. Remember the earlier you start your diagnosis and treatment, the better it is for you.

What are the Risk Factors?

This disorder is an unhealthy way to cope with your emotional stress. The exact cause is yet to be found, but risk factors are presumed to have a link with this disease.
These risk factors include:
  • Genetic factors - According to the National Institute of Mental Health, it was found that genetics do play a certain role in the likeliness of someone developing this disorder. This means a person who has had a family history of this disorder is more likely to develop it.
  • Biological factors - Biological factors are presumably linked to the cause of this condition. In a study conducted in 2013, it was found that there is a difference in the way someone who struggles with this disorder and someone who doesn't process certain things. The responses from both people were found to be different when shown the pictures of slim women.
    Also, this condition emerges more during the time of puberty when the hormonal changes are at their peak. In a 2007 study, it was also found that ovarian hormones increase the risk of developing this disease.
  • Environmental factors - Environmental factors are also linked to the risk factors of this disorder. Here are a few of the environmental factors that are believed to cause it:
    • People having a history of sexual abuse
    • People who have a habit of criticizing or hating their body
    • Societal pressure to be a certain body type or weight
    • Being associated with an industry that focuses too much on your appearance or weight, e.g., Sports, modeling, fashion industry, etc.
  • Psychological factors - Psychological factors also are linked to the risk factors. These include:
    • Having personality disorders
    • Having anxiety disorder
    • Having Depression, PTSD, or OCD

How to Recover From Your Symptoms

Recovering from this condition is tricky, but it's very much possible. Treating it is a complicated process that begins with first identifying the problem, then acknowledging it so that you can work toward correcting the eating behavior-related patterns.
The end goal of the treatment involves:
  • Reduction in binging and purging episodes
  • Treatment of the physical issues caused by the disorder
  • Identifying and changing the negative thought patterns related to your body and food
  • Identifying and treating the other mental health issues like depression, anxiety, etc.
Here are a few ways in which you can recover from your symptoms:
  • Nutrition counseling - When suffering from this condition, it’s very important to improve your eating behaviors and habits. This requires you to seek help from a certified nutritionist.
    They can help you make those changes with meal planning and preparation. They can also help you recognize and resist the urges for binging and purging.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy - Psychotherapy is extremely powerful in treating this disorder. It helps change your thinking pattern and behavior.
    It will help you make changes to improve your body image, understanding, and coping with your emotions. It will also help you make changes in your obsessive and compulsive behaviors of binging and purging. This will help you create a healthy eating behavior.
  • Medications - Certain antidepressants like Celexa, Lexapro, Prozac, and Zoloft, are known to reduce episodes of binge eating and purging. But these alone aren't effective. It needs to be combined with therapy and other coping measures for better results.
  • Mind/Body medicine - Mind/Body medicine is also known to cause relief in a lot of patients. But what exactly is it? It refers to a treatment approach that focuses on intervention strategies intended to promote good health like acupuncture, tai-chi, qigong, yoga, meditation, biofeedback, etc. These methods are used to reprogram the mind and gain control over the patient's eating behavior.

Find Help From a Licensed Therapist Who's Right For You

Finding the right therapist is significant for overcoming this eating disorder. At DocVita, we have many therapists from various domains that can help you in your healing journey. The right therapist is the one with whom you can establish a connection so that it becomes easy for you to open up about your issues. But this may take some time. You need to have at least 3 to 4 sessions with a therapist to build that sort of connection and trust.
If you are unable to establish this connection with them even after 3-4 sessions, you can switch to another therapist if needed. You can find the list of various therapists and psychiatrists on our website. You can choose from the various specialists who have qualities like being a good listener, having empathy, are caring, and helpful.

Schedule a Virtual Psychotherapy Appointment with a Counsellor Today

If you are someone who is struggling with bulimia, it might be time for you to reach out to a trusted therapist for help. We at DocVita have various specialists from different fields that can help you manage and cope with it better. All you have to do is hop on to DocVita and book your first session today!