Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Bulimia: What To Look For [Guest Post]

Signs and symptoms of a dangerous disorder.

[Today’s guest post was contributed by Heidi Taylor. I include it here as part of a continuing series of guest posts having to do with the so-called “lifestyle addictions,” such as perceived addictions to gambling, sex, video games, or shopping—areas in which I can claim no special expertise, and diagnoses which remain controversial among addiction researchers. However, I do strongly believe that the case has been made for the addictive nature of certain eating disorders—bulimia and carbohydrate-craving obesity in particular—in which the ingested substance is food, not “drugs” as we commonly think of them. Eating is one of the most obvious ways in which we alter the neurochemistry of our brains every day. As for treatment, serotonin abnormalities are believed to be the culprit. Many bulimics improve on SSRI antidepressants.]
--Dirk Hanson

Detecting Bulimia in a Loved One

It’s not a disease that’s visible at first or even second sight, but even so, it is one that’s largely ignored and left untreated more because most people are not even aware of its existence. But bulimia, or to be exact, bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder that could end up having physical, psychological and sociological consequences that are hard to digest. Bulimics tend to eat more than they should – in fact, they gorge on food – and then force themselves to throw up using emetics, visit the toilet with laxatives, or go without food for the next day or so. In short, they compensate for their over-eating in ways that are neither healthy nor advisable.

While it may not seem like a dangerous disorder, bulimia can have devastating consequences if left unchecked – people affected are prone to suffer from an inflamed throat and neck glands, a torn esophagus, decaying and unhealthy teeth, acid reflux disorder, ruptured intestines, irritable bowels, dehydration and malfunctioning kidneys. Besides these physical symptoms, they’re also going to be obsessed with their weight, suffer from depression and anxiety, and face other mental and social problems. So if you suspect a loved one may be bulimic, here are a few symptoms that will help you detect the disorder and get them professional help as soon as possible:

• Eating more than the normal amount possible in a single meal or over the course of a few meals.
• Frequent visits to the toilet after a meal.
• A washed out and drained look that happens because they’re dehydrated and their body is low in minerals from all the purging and use of laxatives.
• Mood swings that seem to come on for no apparent reason.
• Sores in the mouth and/or on their fingers (because they may be sticking it in their throats to induce vomiting).
• Inflamed throats and bad teeth.
• Bouts of depression or uncalled for anxiety attacks.
• Exercising for a long time, at odd hours of the day and being obsessed with the way they look.
• It’s the women and the teenagers who are more susceptible to this disorder because of their obsession with their weight and the way they look. So if you have a daughter or a close female friend or relative who acts in a way that points suspicion to bulimia, talk to them and get them much-needed medical intervention before the situation worsens.

Even if you just suspect bulimia and are not really sure, you’d do well to talk to the person concerned and get them to see a doctor who can help. Remember, it may sound like a minor thing, but bulimia is a very serious disorder.
This post was contributed by Heidi Taylor, who writes about the Masters in Healthcare. She welcomes your feedback at HeidiLTaylor006 at gmail.com

Graphics Credit: Graham Menzies Foundation

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Is bulimia an eating disorder or a sexual disorder?

The brain primarily uses endorphins in the event of satiation. During feeding, the ventral hypothalamus slowly induces endorphins to aggregate at the ventral tegmental area to do two things: 1.) interrupts or re-inhibits consummatory motivation once the gut signals it is full, and 2.) punctuates re-inhibition with a near-imperceptible reward (pleasure) for achieving a set point.

The bulimic, however, manipulates consumption to maximize punctuation of satiation. That is, by feeding on "comfort foods" rapidly, the bulimic causes endorphins to aggregate quickly at the VTA before the gut is able to signal it is full. Then she purges, which triggers enormous endorphin activity at the gut and in the nucleus accumbens simultaneously, causing a near-orgasmic phenomenon.

The trick is, she MUST purge within a few minutes of having consumed, otherwise the gut will have had time to signal "full", enabling the VH to control slower release of endorphins at the VTA.

Anorexia is similar except the anorexic manipulates acidosis to generate endorphins-- more of a heroin "high".

Is this possible?


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