Seeking Help for Bulimia Nervosa
Bulimia nervosa can cause medical complications and should not be left untreated (click here for the medical complications of bulimia nervosa). The cause and the severity of an eating disorder can vary from person to person and will manifest or show itself in the symptoms and in behaviours such as excessive eating, binging and purging, excessive exercise, the use of laxatives, diuretics and enemas (click here to go to the causes). The severity itself is an important clue to the problem (click here for the clinical features and observable behaviours). There are many women who appear to have a normal weight but who can only maintain this by being bulimic. Remember that bulimia nervosa is not only about vomiting food. See identification for other signs such as excessive exercise, the use of laxatives, enemas and diuretics. Unfortunately, most people try and change the symptom, i.e. the aspect or manifestation that is observable. Trying to stop bulimia without addressing the underlying causes may result in the problem becoming further entrenched.
This eating disorder is the most difficult to recognise because of the secretiveness of the ritual. If you, or someone you know has bulimia nervosa, please know that help is available. As with all eating disorders, bulimia nervosa is a multi-factorial problem that requires a multi-disciplinary approach. That is, the following team of professionals should be consulted:
1. The family physician or G.P.: Your family doctor will carry out the necessary tests which may include electrolyte balances, kidney and liver function tests, and blood counts to exclude the possibility of any medical factors that may be causing the problem. Your G.P. can refer you to a reputable professional or service. You can also self-refer to Mindalot and we will ensure that your G.P. is involved and/or informed (contact us).
2. A psychologist. A psychologist can be approached directly if the problem is recognised in its early stage for an assessment and may suggest that physical tests are carried out depending on the severity of the purging. Bulimia nervosa cannot be solved in a few sessions and long-term therapy is usually required. The psychologist will recommend the required length of time. (Please see our treatment options). See causes to understand the kind of psychological factors that are at play with bulimia nervosa. Do not dabble with this problem. Seek the right help as soon as possible. Psychologists who work with eating disorders work in conjunction with a dietitian.
3. A dietitian. As commented above, eating disorders should never be treated from the dietary aspect alone. Dealing with the food problem without dealing with the underlying psychological factors can result in the problem becoming entrenched and difficult to treat. Dietitians who work with eating disorders will work in conjunction with a psychologist.
4. A psychiatrist, if necessary. Usually the family physician and/or the psychologist will assess whether this problem requires the additional input of a psychiatrist.
5. The family dentist will need to assess the damage done to the teeth as a result of purging. (See medical complications of bulimia nervosa).
6. An exercise specialist. If you are overweight, our exercise specialist at Mindalot will advise you on a suitable exercise regimen once the psychological reasons for your weight problem have been assessed (see our team). Please ensure that you seek help from the right people.
An attempt to change only the symptom (the weight problem and/or the bulimia) is one of the reasons why people with an eating disorder constantly reappear at different treatment programmes. Please see psychological and historical causes to bulimia nervosa. It is neverjust about too little or too much food! It is also about your relationship with yourself and how this manifests in your relationship with food.