A review of bulimia nervosa will state that at present, there is no single specific factor pinpointed as its cause. The general opinion seems to be that a combination of social, psychological, and physical factors contributes to people falling prey to this disease. A lethal mix of family history, dietary habits, aesthetic standards and certain personality traits may set the stage for developing the disorder. Stressful events such as divorce, the loss of a loved one, sickness, or even moving from one place to another may also trigger the onset of bulimia.
Social and Environmental Factors Presented as Bulimia Nervosa Causes
There is no denying that from the beginning, the sufferer experiences a critical dissatisfaction with his or her appearance. In particular, he or she sees his or her body as overweight regardless of whether this is true or not. Some bulimics are actually within the normal weight range when they start the binge and purge cycle.
As far back as the early 1990’s research has been done on the social aspect of bulimia causes. These studies do in part support the concept that sufferers from bulimia are negatively impacted by a desire to conform to weight standards promoted through media. Because there is a great discrepancy between the average weight and height of ordinary people as against the weight and height of models used on television and in print media, many fall prey to the nearly impossible challenge of obtaining what is perceived to be the ideal. Still, it would be too simplistic to say that media’s promotion of the thin body is the deciding dynamic in triggering bulimia.
Another socially generated factor that affects the development of the disorder is performance related pressure in sports and related fields. Wrestlers, runners, and gymnasts are particularly vulnerable because keeping body weight low is important for good performance. In addition, restrictions in eating are often a part of their training regimens. All these combined can give rise to the binge and purge cycle that bulimics undergo.
Family attitudes can play a major role in triggering the onset of bulimia. There is a greater chance that members will develop bulimia where the family environment displays great concern over physical appearance and where there is a push to diet.
Biological and Physical Factors Recognized as Bulimia Nervosa Causes
It is possible that people are born with an inherited predisposition towards developing bulimia particularly where addiction is in the genes. Some resources claim that the disorder may run in families with female members being more prone to the disorder.
Studies are being done to verify whether eating disorders, including bulimia, are tied to abnormalities in neurotransmitters in the brain. One such neurotransmitter would be serotonin. Abnormal neuroendocrine regulation has also been observed in people with bulimia. Pertinent questions that will hopefully be answered by further research is does bulimia cause these abnormalities or do these abnormalities cause bulimia.
It has been discovered that people suffering from bulimia usually have emotional and psychological issues contributing to and concurrent with the disorder. Some of these issues or problems are anger management, low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Again, there are valid questions as to whether these psychological issues are the causes or the results of bulimia.
Populations at Risk
The most practical value of information about bulimia nervosa causes is that this can be an aid to predicting who is at risk. So far, studies have shown that most bulimia sufferers are women; that the onset of the disease has been commonly observed during the late teens or early adulthood and that there is greater risk for people who have an affected relative within the first degree of consanguinity.
People with psychological and emotional problems are also more prone to the disorder. The same risk is true for people who are living with the demand to be thin due to peer pressure or professional standards.
With this information, it is possible for teachers, friends, and families to be aware that risk factors exist. They can take care so that people around them do not succumb to this deadly disorder.
A Hard Look at Signs of Bulimia
Bulimia is a mental disorder, which manifests in the distortion of body image. The bulimic person will view himself or herself as grossly overweight even if empirical evidence shows otherwise. He or she will be obsessed with losing weight and yet will engage in overeating. This will be followed by feelings of guilt, which then lead the bulimic person to induce vomiting.
The bulimic person is unable to resist bingeing and to compensate for this he or she will go into periods of fasting and the use of laxatives and diuretics. The most common form of compensatory action for overeating is self-induced vomiting and among the signs of bulimia.
Who is Vulnerable?
Anyone, regardless of age, sex or race can suffer from this disorder. Reported cases seem to have risen in the past few years and the demographic profile of the most vulnerable population may be undergoing a change even as you read. At present, it is known that more than 85% of people who have it are female. Of this population, more than 60% register weights near what nutrition tables would define as normal. Bulimic persons usually start the binging and dieting/purging cycle when they are teenagers. At present, primarily affected are Caucasians living in societies where diets are a constant fad and standards of beauty are based on slim models’ figures. This data however, seems to be undergoing a change just as it has been noted that there is an increase in the number of males who can be classified as bulimic.
Watching Out for Signs of Bulimia
The first warning signs of bulimia may be a noticeable binging on food, especially junk food. This binging will usually be followed by a trip to the bathroom during which the person will induce vomiting. Some will not even be able to wait for the meal to end but will purge during a meal. Some may not even have indulged in binging but may have been eating a normal quantity of regular food. For the bulimic, even this must be expelled.
Another sign that a person may be bulimic is if, in between periods of exhibiting a hearty appetite, the person refuses to eat or merely pushes his or her food around the plate to give the appearance of having eaten. This, compounded by obsessive exercising, may indicate that the person is going through a bulimic cycle.
Other warning signs usually come later and will usually mean that the person has been bulimic for a considerable amount of time. These will include discoloration of the teeth caused by stomach acid brought up to the mouth during vomiting. Some bulimic persons will begin to have dry, brittle hair, which could also thin out.
Watch out for sudden weight loss because this could mean that extreme purging is taking place, leaving the body with very little nutrients. A bulimic person may also have shadows under his or her eyes and hollow cheeks.
These physical signs can be accompanied by behavioral manifestations as well. A loss of interest in the person’s usual activities, the habitual wearing of loose coupled by a refusal to buy new ones, irritability and mood swings – all of these are warning signs that a person may be suffering from bulimia.
Psychological counseling and sometimes medication are necessary treatment components. Usually, there is therapy to help bulimic persons change both their thinking and their behavior so that they are able to eat healthily, stop obsessing about body weight, understand why they binge, and purge and what sets them off on this destructive cycle.
The professional counseling and anti-depressants, if prescribed will often lessen the binging and the purging. However, the greater challenge is for the affected person to arrive at a healthier body image with parameters unburdened by images of reed thin models held up to be everyone’s ideal.
If you have a friend or a family member who may be suffering from or showing signs of bulimia, remember that this is not a condition that can be solved by scolding, discipline, or advice. Help from experts is necessary and along with this, the firm and loving support of family and friends. The good news is that people do recover from this disorder and they go on to live long normal lives.