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Bulimia (doctors prefer to call it bulimia nervosa) is an eating disorder. The name bulimia is derived by compounding Greek and Latin words which essentially mean “ravenous hunger”. The disease however, does not reside in the body. It is essentially a mental disease.
The basic signs of bulimia can be found when a person feels extremely hungry and gorges on food to satisfy hunger and then feels very guilty about it. In order to wash away the guilt, either the person vomits or engages in extremely strenuous exercise or fasts for inappropriately long durations. This cycle of binge eating followed by purging is a form of mental disorder and the most common symptom of bulimia.
Researchers have been able to empirically prove that the Caucasian groups are more prone to this affliction, but of late, it is spreading among American, Hispanic and African communities too. It is mainly found among young women who are obsessive about maintaining a pencil thin body, especially those involved in gymnastics, figure skating, dancing or modeling. Young women who aspire to achieve the hour glass figures of celebrity models are sometimes found to be suffering from bulimia.
Bulimia can be subdivided into two categories:
Purging Bulimia – The patient vomits, or removes from the body by overuse of laxatives, whatever food that has gone in the system during binge eating period. This is the more prevalent type.
Non-Purging Bulimia – This is a comparatively rare type of the disease where the patient tries to counteract the excessive calories that have been ingested by engaging in excessive exercise or undertaking prolonged periods of fasting.
What is the difference between Bulimia and Anorexia?
Body weight – The anorexic is always underweight while the bulimic may be underweight, overweight or have a normal body weight.
Amenorrhea – This is an unnatural cessation for three months of menstrual cycle in females. An anorexic must be suffering from this problem while the bulimic usually does not have any such problems.
Binge and Purge – The anorexic rarely engages in this cycle of binge eating and vigorous purging thereafter while it is the most common symptom among the bulimics.
Depression and frustration – Both the bulimics and the anorexics suffer from almost never ending bouts of depression as they fail to achieve their impossible to achieve body weights or figures. Both of these types of patients put too much emphasis on their bodies but while the bulimics suffer from a sense of shame due to their binge eating, the anorexics experience a sense of helplessness in their failure to achieve that perfect hour glass figure.
How to treat Bulimia
Since the disease is basically in the mind, psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy are the most popular forms of treatment. As an added assistance, some psychotherapists also prescribe the anti-depressant drug Prozac which has been quite a success in treating this disease.