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Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by periods of binge eating followed by purging behaviors, in an effort to prevent weight gain. Binging is defined as eating a large amount of food in a short period of time. Purging can include a range of behaviors meant to rid the body of food: self-induced vomiting; abuse of laxatives, diet pills or diuretics; excessive exercising; fasting and more. You can’t tell if a person has bulimia by looking at them: Most people suffering with this disease appear to be of normal weight. Binging/purging behaviors often come with feelings of deep shame, so bulimics don’t tend to talk about their struggle. 1.5% of American women suffer from bulimia nervosa in their lifetime, but bulimia can also strike men.

Like all eating disorders, the cause of bulimia is complex and not completely understood, but research shows that much of the risk for eating disorders may be genetic. Development of eating disorders is also associated with significant life transitions, a history of abuse or trauma, poor self-esteem or body image and family challenges.

Signs and symptoms

The signs of bulimia can be behavioral, emotional and physical and often include:

Feeling out of control when binging
Eating when you’re not physically hungry
Eating in secret
Disappearance of food without explanation
Preoccupation with body image (your own body or others’ bodies)
Stomach or gastrointestinal problems (such as gastric reflux)
Cardiovascular problems (chest pains, arrhythmia)

How Crosswinds can help

Crosswinds therapists are equipped to assess the presence and severity of bulimic tendencies. After careful assessment, a Crosswinds therapist will develop a treatment plan to help address the client’s maladaptive thoughts, change their behavior cycle and manage emotions. Our therapists work with individuals and families to reach their specific goals for living a full and healthy life. In cases where bulimia has progressed outside our realm of competence (such as if medical intervention is necessary), Crosswinds therapists will make referrals to a higher level of care.

If you or a loved one is struggling with the symptoms of bulimia, please contact Crosswinds today:

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