Bulimia is a serious and potentially life-threatening illness. Fortunately, it’s highly treatable, and full recovery is absolutely possible. Specifically, this eating disorder is characterized by bouts of bingeing and purging. “Bingeing is defined as eating more, in a specific period of time, than others typically would in the same period of time and the same set of circumstances,” according to Dana Udall-Weiner, Ph.D, a psychologist who specializes in eating disorders and founded EDeducate.com, a website with information and support for parents whose children have an eating disorder. During a binge, people also feel out of control and unable to stop. Afterward, worried about gaining weight, they engage in purging behaviors, such as vomiting; taking laxatives, diet pills or diuretics; fasting; or over-exercising. For these individuals, their self-worth is wrapped around their weight and how they feel about their bodies. Bulimia affects anywhere from .1 to 1.5 percent of American adults, Udall-Weiner said. Like other eating disorders, it also does not discriminate.
Bulimia affects both women and men (though it’s more common among women). And it affects all ages, races and religions. There are no quick fixes for bulimia. Recovery is often a long road, paved with potholes and rubble. But staying the course will help you get better. “What’s more, the skills you acquire in order to recover from bulimia will make you a more resilient person, better able to trust in yourself and to take on life’s challenges. So the work is hard, really hard, but the payoffs are amazing!” said Susan Schulherr, LCSW, an eating disorder specialist and author of Eating Disorders for Dummies. Here are tips for overcoming bulimia.
Margarita Tartakovsky, MS, is an associate editor at Psych Central and authors the body image blog Weightless. She writes about everything from anxiety and ADHD to creativity and couples to mindfulness and stress. You can learn more about her work at her website.
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