Meaning of Bulimia

What is Bulimia:

Bulimia, also known as bulimia nervosa, It is an eating disorder characterized by episodes of uncontrolled and excessive food intake.. Generally, these episodes are accompanied by a subsequent induction of vomiting or use of laxatives to expel food from the body, and subsequent feelings of guilt and shame.

In this way, there are two types of bulimia nervosa: purgative type and non-purgative type. In the first, the person self-induces vomiting or uses laxatives or diuretics to expel food. In the second, the individual chooses rather to fast or do a lot of exercise the days after eating.

Bulimia begins to manifest between adolescence and adulthood, and affects both men and women, although the number of women who suffer from it is considerably higher, at a ratio of ten women for every man.

As such, the word bulimia comes from the Greek βουλιμία (boulimia)from βούλιμος (boúlimos)which translates, literally, ‘hungry ox’, but which we can understand as ‘very hungry’.

See also Food.

Bulimia and anorexia

Anorexia, as such, is a symptom that is characterized by the absence or lack of appetite. In this sense, it differs sharply from bulimia, which is an eating disorder characterized by uncontrollable cravings and binge eating.

For its part, anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that is characterized by self-induced weight loss due to a distortion of body image, and that has serious mental and physical consequences for the patient’s health.

In this sense, a common factor between anorexia nervosa and bulimia is the distorted perception of body image, since in both cases the sufferer feels fat or over their ideal weight, and has an obsession with losing weight that threatens your health and psychological balance.

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For more information, see the article on anorexia.

Causes of bulimia

Because an organic cause could not be determined, it is argued that bulimia is due, above all, to psychological causes. Mainly, the following causes are associated:

  • People with low self-esteem.
  • Emotional instability and affective problems in their family environment.
  • Fear of gaining weight, and having a distorted body image.

People with bulimia are subjected to extremely strict and irrational diets. They obsessively seek to have an ideal weight and figure that adapts to the beauty standards established by the media, since sentimental failures or social rejection made them believe that physical beauty was an essential factor for success.

symptoms of bulimia

Some of the symptoms that occur in people with bulimia are:

  • Recurrence of episodes of excessive and uncontrolled eating, also known as binge eating.
  • Behaviors such as the induction of vomiting, use of laxatives or diuretics to compensate for binge eating.
  • Ingestion of drugs to reduce appetite, fasting, or excessive physical exercise to avoid gaining weight.
  • Obsession with food, uncontrollable urges to eat (mainly high-calorie foods).
  • Secretism in their behaviors due to shame and fears associated with social sanction.
  • Apathy, fatigue, irritability, sleep rhythm disturbances, etc.

consequences of bulimia

The consequences that those who suffer from bulimia have to face are varied:

  • Alterations associated with the induction of vomiting or the use of laxatives, which affect the digestive system: ulcers in the esophagus, stomach problems, significant loss of dental enamel and the appearance of cavities. Similarly, accidental aspiration of vomit can lead to the development of hoarseness or lung infections.
  • Due to the organic consequences of the purges, the individual experiences changes in heart rate, dehydration, low blood pressure, epileptic seizures, hormonal changes (irregularities in the menstrual cycle, in the case of women).
  • A psychological level, he is affected by deep depression, panic disorders, anxiety, social phobia, irritability, sleep disturbances, personality disorders and suicide attempts. All this, in addition, can be accompanied by the consumption of drugs and alcohol.
  • In it social ambitthe individual sees his development deteriorate, his performance, whether at the school or work level, tends to decline, which can lead to the total abandonment of obligations, including personal hygiene.
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bulimia treatment

The treatment of bulimia must be multidisciplinary to deal with the physical and psychological aspects, which is why it must be accompanied by pharmacological treatment and individual and group therapies, the most widely used being cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), with the aim of improving her self-esteem and accepting herself.