Bulimia

What is Bulimia Nervosa?

Bulimia nervosa is a serious eating disorder that requires a comprehensive treatment program for successful recovery. Like other eating disorders, bulimia is complicated and not fully understood, but some of the contributing factors include genetics, environment, psychological, and cultural influences.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fifth Edition, bulimia nervosa is characterized by the following:

  • Recurrent episodes of binge eating (characterized by eating large amounts of food in a short period and a sense of loss of control over eating behaviors)
  • Use of inappropriate compensatory behaviors, such as self-induced vomiting, laxative or diuretic abuse, fasting and/or obsessive exercise
  • The binge eating, and compensatory behaviors occur at least once a week for three months
  • Self-evaluation is inappropriately influenced by the person’s weight and shape
  • The disturbance does not occur exclusively during episodes of anorexia nervosa

Signs and Symptoms of Bulimia Nervosa

Individuals suffering from bulimia may show several signs as a direct result of self-induced vomiting or purging, and even more so if the binge-purge cycle is repeated often. Other signs and symptoms of bulimia can include:

  • Noticeable weight fluctuations
  • Skipping meals or taking small portions of food at regular meals
  • Stealing or hoarding food in strange places
  • Drinking excess amounts of water or non-caloric beverages
  • Excessive, rigid exercise regimen
  • Unusual swelling of the cheeks or jaw area
  • Calluses on the back of the hands and knuckles
  • Discoloration or staining of the teeth
  • Creation of complex lifestyle schedules or rituals (to allow time for binge eating and purging sessions)
  • Withdrawal from friends, family, and/or activities
  • Behaviors and attitudes indicating a preoccupation with the importance of weight loss, dieting, and control of food
  • Self-evaluation is inappropriately influenced by the person’s weight and shape
  • Extreme mood swings

Health Consequences of Bulimia Nervosa

The binge-purge cycle of bulimia can damage your body, and as it worsens, the symptoms and consequences become more severe. Complications from the disorder can include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Electrolyte imbalance (can lead to irregular heartbeats and possibly heart failure and death)
  • Inflammation and/or rupture of the esophagus
  • Chronic sore throat
  • Tooth decay and/or staining
  • Chronic irregular bowel movements and constipation
  • Pancreatitis
  • Gastric rupture
  • Hair loss
  • Depression
  • Chest pain

How We Treat

Bulimia nervosa can be life-threating, but recovery is possible with a comprehensive treatment program that addresses the specific needs of the client. At River Centre, our professional treatment team works with the client and their families to customize a treatment plan. We combine evidence-based therapeutic interventions with support and individual attention to help clients address the underlying issues of their eating disorder.

Clinical treatment approaches include:

  • Enhanced Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
  • Individual Therapy
  • Group Therapy
  • Family Therapy
  • Nutritional Rehabilitation
  • Medical and Medication Services

Our treatment program offers a comprehensive spectrum of services for treating eating disorders and co-occurring conditions such as low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, OCD, and trauma. The levels of care we provide help to target the needs of our clients.

Bulimia Treatment at River Centre

You do not have to be alone in your struggle; River Centre is here for you. If you or a loved one would like more information about bulimia treatment, call us today at 866.915.8577 or complete our contact form. Our admissions team is here to assist you.

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Eating Disorders Among Minorities

When the term eating disorder is mentioned, there is usually a specific mental image that comes to mind. Traditionally, the stereotypical person with this type of mental health issue is a young, wealthier Caucasian female. Mass media and pop culture images usually reinforce the portrayal of hyper-thin, white women who are suffering from the effects of conditions like anorexia nervosa. However, this stereotype that eating disorders only inflect younger, white women is not correct.

Eating disorders are usually placed into four overall categories: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder and Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED). Other mental health issues are also commonly assisted with these eating disorders such as general anxiety, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, bipolar disorder and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

The American Psychiatric Association defines an eating disorder as an illness where people experience severe disturbances in their eating behaviors. They also have problems related to the regulation of thoughts and emotions, usually becoming obsessed with food consumption and their body weight. The prevalence of reported eating disorders, with the exception of anorexia nervosa, is similar among Non-Hispanic Whites, Hispanics, African-Americans, and Asian Americans in the United States.

Decades ago, American societal portrayals of eating disorders were almost always shown as a white-woman problem. Shockingly, this misconception was also maintained by physicians and other healthcare professionals.

For example, behavioral health research from 2006 challenged the notion that African-American women were less likely to develop eating disorders. In this study, healthcare providers read 1 of 3 passages describing disturbed eating patterns of a fictional patient named Mary. The only differences between the passages were that the patient’s race, which was randomly changed for each provider. This meant that every fictional patient’s symptoms were identical, with only the person’s race randomly rotating between African-American, Caucasian, or Hispanic.

Healthcare professionals were then asked to diagnosis the patient’s level of depression, anxiety as well as whether an eating disorder might exist. In cases of a white racial profile, the eating behavior was considered problematic 44% of the time. For Hispanic profiles, the behavior was considered problematic in 41% of the cases. Surprisingly, when the patient was identified as African American, the eating behavior was identified as problematic in only 17% of the cases. The study’s final results suggested that healthcare clinicians appear to hold race-based stereotypes about eating disorders that could limit their detection of symptoms in African-American girls.

The results of the 2006 study reinforced earlier research from 2002 which found that the race of adolescent girls had a significant impact on the detection of disturbed eating patterns. In this study, undergraduate college students recognized the existence of an eating disorder more often when they read about a Caucasian female, rather than when they read about a minority female (Hispanic or African American) with the same behavior.

National statistics indicate that eating disorders predominantly occur in white females, but many eating disorder professionals increasingly believe that the data is skewed. Women of color have likely been alienated from personal support networks. In addition, healthcare professionals use to believe that African-American and Hispanic women were somehow more immune to eating disorders.

Until recently, people with an African American racial identify were underrepresented in treatment centers and research studies about eating disorders. Gathering quality data was more of a challenge due to societal misperceptions and prejudice. Now it is clear that perceptions of body image and disordered eating patterns are not just problems for young, white women.

Here is some additional information on eating disorders and minorities:

It is clear that eating disorders do not only occur in certain racial or socioeconomic groups. Race, ethnicity and/or socioeconomic status does not make individuals immune to these health conditions. In the past, eating disorders were primarily associated with heterosexual, young, white females. In fact, these mental health issues affect people from all demographics and ethnicities at similar rates. However, minority groups (particularly African Americans) are significantly less likely to receive help for eating disorder problems.

Regardless of one’s racial or ethnic identity, treating and recovering from an eating disorder takes time as well as professional help. An experienced mental health professional can help a person understand the origins of this behavior, whether it is an eating disorder as well as acquire coping skills.

For additional information or questions about this topic, please contact the staff at River Centre Clinic (RCC). Their Eating Disorders Programs provide a full range of treatment options for both adolescents and adults. The River Centre Clinic’s main phone number is 1.877.212.5457.

Eating Attitudes Test (EAT-26)

The EAT-26 is the most widely cited standardized self-report screening measure that may be able to help you determine if you have an eating disorder that needs professional attention. Take the EAT-26 now and get immediate and anonymous feedback.

Follow us on Twitter:  @River_Centre

Eating Disorders, Minorities

Contributor: ABCS RCM

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Eating Disorders -- RCC

The Allure of Eating Disorders: Perfection and Shame

Some people may find this surprising, but eating disorders like anorexia nervosa and bulimia can provide individuals with a sense of purpose. They are on a mission to remake themselves and finally become happy. People suffering from an eating disorder will have an inner voice that tells them that they will be happy if they can just lose the weight. This same voice tells a person with anorexia or bulimia that their worth is primarily measured by how they physically look.

People suffering from diseases like anorexia may actually have a sense of uniqueness. As they grapple with hunger pains and thoughts that excessively focus on food, exercise and their body. They become numb to other things in their life. Eating disorders can create an anesthetic-like effect on people. When their body is perfect, they will be happy. There is simply no escape from this mission.

However, this is an illusion. For people, happiness and positive self-esteem arise from accepting and loving themselves as they are in the present. Another crucial piece for a successful recovery is for individuals to have access to love and support. In this way, people can start to understand that their eating disorder was not by choice. Yet, seeking treatment is not always an option for some people. Sadly, there is still a societal stigma towards mental health.

Due to this stigma, and feelings of shame, people may choose to struggle with their eating disorder alone. However, they should understand that there is no shame in having a diagnosed eating disorder. Perceived feelings of shame for having an eating disorder is a poor reason for not seeking professional help. But, these feelings of shame and fear create additional medical complications and high mortality rates for individuals struggling with an eating disorder.

Among the youth and college students, eating disorders are particularly a problem. There is a movement to educate students, as well as the youth in general, about body positivity and the dangers of untreated eating disorders. The goal is for young people to accept that all body shapes and sizes are beautiful. For example, in Northern Ohio, Youngstown State University (YSU) spreads awareness about the dangers of eating disorders by hosting a student fashion show. The show is titled the EveryBODY Fashion Show – Awareness of Eating Disorder Fashion Show and is held to showcase and celebrate all body types. The show is held in honor of a former YSU student (Danielle Peters) from the fashion merchandising program. In 2012, this student died due to complications from an eating disorder. In addition, some students take part in the National Eating Disorders Association Walk at the Cleveland Zoo to raise money for the organization.

Beyond raising awareness, people’s relationship with dieting, body weight and their sense of themselves are complex. People who suffer from eating disorders state that they still feel uncomfortable in their own skin, even after losing a substantial amount of weight. Hopefully, these individuals realize that they are chasing the illusion of perfection and start to understand that it is not possible to “diet” oneself to happiness. There are deeper issues and insecurities at work.

It is possible to fully recover from eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia. However, when a person is alone, it may feel like there is no escape from the obsessive thoughts about food and body weight. A trained healthcare professional can guide and support people as they come to terms with their perceptions and thoughts. Research shows that without proper treatment and professional assistance, the prospects for a full recovery are greatly diminished. In this case, a do it on your own approach is not the best choice.

Recovery from eating disorders can be elusive and challenging. After recovery, individuals may continue to experience mild, moderate or even severe symptoms. What is important is that people maintain an optimistic outlook. People with chronic and debilitating eating disorders can make a full recovery. With the right professional guidance and the proper level of care, it is possible for people to learn to deal with life without the nagging inner voice of an eating disorder.

Contact the friendly staff at River Centre Clinic (RCC) for additional information or questions about eating disorder treatments. Their experienced staff and nationally recognized programs provide patients with a full range of treatment options. The River Centre Clinic is located in the beautiful Sylvania, Ohio.

Follow on Twitter:  @River_Centre

Eating Disorders, College Students, Shame, Anorexia, Bulimia

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Person using Apple Watch - River Centre Clinic

Binge Eating Study, Apple and Smartwatches

In 2014, the New York Times published an article that explored the ever-growing presence of smartwatches in healthcare. The article argued that watches in the future will not only track time in increasingly complex ways, but will also play a more critical role in helping people stay healthy. These new watches which mimic the nomenclature of the smartphone are collectively known as smartwatches. The article predicted that in the near future, these devices would go beyond simply transferring app usability from a smartphone to your wrist.

The long-term goal of these devices was to solve problems and deliver benefits to the user in a fundamentally new way that was unique to the smartwatch. These high-tech wristbands would track a person’s fitness level while simultaneously helping with the treatment and management of chronic health conditions. Since 2014, smartwatches have expanded in their functionality and popularity. Many smartwatches can help monitor heart conditions and sleep issues, but now these devices will assist in treating eating disorders.

For readers who are not familiar with smartwatches, here is a brief summary of these newer devices. Basically, a smartwatch is a small computer that is worn on the wrist. They can associate with a smartphone and are extensively used for long-term biomonitoring or telemetry. More recent smartwatches have smartphone functionality and utilize Bluetooth and LTE technology.

Reflecting current medical industry trends, many technology companies have been expanding there presence in the healthcare industry. The tech giant Apple has a number of rumored healthcare-themed projects. For example, a recent patent application that was made public suggests that the company may soon offer a wearable device that accurately monitors blood pressure. In a different healthcare specialty, Apple is donating smartwatches for a new research on eating disorders. The tech company will donate Apple Watches to a binge eating disorder (BED) and bulimia nervosa (BN) study.

The term eating disorder is a broad medical term. The diagnostic system in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) classifies eating disorders into four basic diagnostic categories: anorexia nervosa (AN), bulimia nervosa (BN), binge eating disorder (BED) and Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED). The most notable change in the DSM-5 over the previous editions was the recognition of binge eating disorder as a separate eating disorder category. In recent years illnesses like bulimia have gained public attention. Entrepreneur, actor and political activist Jane Fonda recently spoke publicly about her battles with bulimia.

The goal of the binge eating study is to discover whether this illness is biological or behavioral in origin. More precisely, the study is hoping to better understand the genetic factors that may be associated with binge eating disorder (BED) and bulimia nervosa (BN) in order to develop better treatments for the millions of people who suffer from these illnesses.

The creator of the iPhone is donating 1,000 of its Apple Watches to this study. The company itself is not conducting the study or analyzing any of the data. However, researchers believe that Apple’s smartwatch technology could help to greatly expand the medical understanding of how and why eating disorders occur. Participants in this study will wear the Apple Watch in order to monitor their heart rates over an entire month. They will use a mobile app on the smartwatch to record their thoughts and emotions during periods of binge eating activity. The researchers are investigating whether there are specific biological changes that occur in the body before a binge eating episode. Examples of biological changes that the study hopes to detect are changes in a person’s heart rate before each episode. This kind of data is something that the Apple Watch should readily detect and record.

A long-term goal is to use this data to predict binge eating episodes before they happen. In this way, medical professionals could specifically understand what happens to the human body in the time period leading up to binge and purging behavior. Ultimately, researchers hope to gain the ability to anticipate and change the course of these episodes.

Binge Eating Disorder (BED) and Bulimia Nervosa (BN) are dangerous conditions that require medical help. An individual suffering from bulimia nervosa may reveal several signs and symptoms, many which are the direct result of self-induced vomiting or other forms of purging, especially if the binge/purge cycle is repeated several times a week and/or day.

Physical signs and symptoms of this eating disorder include:

  • Constant weight fluctuations
  • Electrolyte imbalances, which can result in cardiac arrhythmia, cardiac arrest, or ultimately death
  • Broken blood vessels within the eyes
  • Enlarged glands in the neck and under the jawline
  • Oral trauma, such as lacerations in the lining of the mouth or throat from repetitive vomiting
  • Chronic dehydration
  • Inflammation of the esophagus
  • Chronic gastric reflux after eating or peptic ulcers

Other signs and symptoms of binge eating and purging are:

  • The disappearance of large amounts of food
  • Eating in secrecy
  • Lack of control when eating
  • Switching between periods of overeating and fasting
  • Frequent use of the bathroom after meals
  • Having the smell of vomit

Only experienced healthcare professionals can properly diagnosis eating disorders and provide crucial help. For additional information about binge eating and bulimia, please contact the staff at River Centre Clinic (RCC). Their Eating Disorders Programs provide a full range of treatment options for both adolescents and adults. The River Centre Clinic is located in the tranquil setting of Sylvania, Ohio – a historic suburb of Toledo, Ohio.

The EAT-26 (Eating Attitudes Test) assessment provides anonymous and quick feedback for a variety of eating-related health conditions.

Follow on Twitter:  @River_Centre

Binge Eating, Bulimia Nervosa, Apple, Smartwatches

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