Bulimia is an eating disorder where you use food to cope with painful feelings or where your ability to have a normal eating pattern is affected. You may think a lot about the way you look. People who suffer with bulimia have episodes of binge eating or 'bingeing', and may make themselves sick or take laxatives to get rid of food.
Bingeing will involve eating a lot of food in one go, probably fattening foods that you would normally avoid, and then feel very guilty or depressed about it and make yourself sick or take laxatives to go to the toilet, or exercise a lot. This is all done secretly and hidden away from other people.
Bulimia often starts in the mid-teens. 4 out of every 100 women experience bulimia at some point in their lives. Boys do get bulimia, but girls are 10 times more likely to develop it.
The reasons behind bulimia may be using food to cope with stress and painful feelings, or because you feel out of control and want to have control over something, i.e what you eat. People with bulimia may also have suffered with anorexia in the past.
It can be really difficult to admit that you need help, but the sooner you do, the easier it is to recover from bulimia.
Talk to someone you trust about how you’re feeling – a parent, friend or someone else, and then try to get the courage to go see your GP. They will assess whether you do have bulimia, and offer you help and support in the form of a self-help evidence-based programme. If the condition is more serious, your GP may advise medication that could help or refer you on to a specialist – either a dietician who can help you get back into a healthy pattern of eating, or some form of therapy.
Symptoms of bulimia
Symptoms of bulimia include:
- Binge eating
- Vomiting or taking laxatives
- Excessive exercise
- Sore throat and swollen glands
- Isolating yourself and losing interest in other people
- Feeling helpless and depressed
- Sleeping badly
If you would like more information about bulimia, you can visit the YoungMinds website.
Alongside therapy, young people who experience bulimia may be treated with a type of anti-depressant called a Selective Serotonin Reuptakes Inhibitor (SSRI) which can prevent the urge to binge eat. These would include Prozac (Fluoxetine).
Antidepressants can take a few weeks to get into your system and start working, and must be taken regularly.
I felt better instantly. I can't say if it was partially a placebo effect, with the virtue of finally being diagnosed leaving me feeling consciously much more optimistic