Bulimia Nervosa Treatment in Harrisburg, PA
A serious mental illness and eating disorder, bulimia is characterized by cyclical periods of binging and purging. These behaviors are predominantly associated with feelings of guilt and shame, the core emotional symptoms of bulimia. Binging consists of eating large amounts of food in a short amount of time, often accompanied by the feeling that food is the only solution to dealing with difficult feelings. After binging, bulimics can ironically feel as though food is now the root of their problems, leading to the act of purging, expelling the products of a binge through either vomiting or abuse of laxatives and diuretics. Because victims of bulimia are usually at a normal weight, symptoms are often overlooked, and individuals often go untreated. This self-destructive cycle leaves its victims mentally and physically debilitated, with many long-term implications.
Luckily, bulimia nervosa recovery is possible with professional intervention. To seek help from a healthcare professional in Harrisburg that specializes in bulimia treatment, call (724) 915-1049 or contact Dr. Martin Gallagher online.
Bulimia Nervosa Symptoms
Physical symptoms of bulimia nervosa develop over time, as the effects of bingeing and purging begin to take their toll on the mouth, teeth, esophagus and gastrointestinal system. Dehydration and malnutrition are common symptoms, despite a bulimic's tendency to maintain a normal weight. Some other physical bulimia symptoms include:
- Abnormal bowel functioning
- Dry skin
- Irregular heartbeat
- Menstrual irregularities or loss of menstruation (amenorrhea )
- Tingling in the hands or feet
- Muscle cramps
- Inability to sleep
- Internal bleeding
- Drug and alcohol addiction, especially if these substances are used to self-medicate for uncontrolled emotions or deal with physical complications
- Self-injury behavior
- Heart attack
Emotional bulimia symptoms are sometimes easier to conceal and can include:
- Social isolation
- Having a distorted, excessively negative body image
- Preoccupation of body shape and weight
Bulimia can be one of the most difficult eating disorders to overcome. Because of the binging and purging cycle, bulimia is often extremely rough on the body and involves many serious symptoms and long-term side-effects. Several of these side-effects are dangerous, with many people dying yearly from complications of bulimia. Emotionally, bulimia can lead sufferers to extreme measures, causing fractured relationships with friends and family, job loss, withdrawal from school and even bankruptcy. This emotional turmoil unfortunately leads some sufferers to extreme self-injury and suicide. For this reason, early intervention and finding the right kind of bulimia treatment is critical.
Treatment for Bulimia Nervosa
To diagnose bulimia your healthcare provider will general perform a complete physical examination, blood and urine tests and a psychological evaluation, including a discussion of eating habits and attitudes toward food and appearance. Treatment is multi-faceted and typically involves a team of healthcare providers, including a primary care healthcare provider, mental health provider and a dietician with eating disorder experience. The following are a number of treatments that may be used in treating bulimia nervosa:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) - Initially developed for individuals with eating disorders, CBT helps to recognize unhealthy, negative beliefs and behaviors and to replace them with healthy ones.
- Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) - A highly structured form of therapy, IPT addresses difficulties in your close relationships, with the goal of improving communication and problem-solving techniques.
- Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) - Helpful in dealing with suicidal tendencies and self-destructive behaviors, DBT is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy that helps patients identify how their thoughts influence their behaviors.
- Family-based therapy - Generally recommended for teens, with the goal of healing family dynamics and helping parents deal with their child’s behavior.
- Medication - Antidepressants (SSRIs) can be helpful in treatment, when used in conjunction with psychotherapy.
- Nutrition education - An eating plan, designed by a dietitian, provides structure that helps to achieve a healthy weight and normal eating habits, ultimately contributing to good nutrition.
- Hospitalization - Unlike anorexia, bulimia can usually be treated outside of a hospital. However, with serious cases and severe health complications, hospital treatment may be required. There are eating disorder programs that do offer partial hospitalization or day treatment programs.
While recovery is possible, it's difficult for symptoms to dissipate entirely. Many patients find that symptoms can recur throughout the years, depending on stress and life situations. To prevent a relapse, it's best to follow up with a healthcare provider regularly. Learning positive coping mechanisms and managing stress is key for preventing a relapse.
To seek help from a healthcare professional in Harrisburg that specializes in bulimia treatment, call (724) 915-1049 or contact Dr. Martin Gallagher online.
Medical Wellness Associates
Jeannette, PA 15644
8:00 am - 7:30 pm
Tue: 9:00 am - 5:30 pm
Wed: 8:00 am - 7:30 pm
Thu: 8:00 am - 5:30 pm
Fri: 8:00 am - 2:00 pm
Sat: 8:00 am - 12:00 pm