If you are concerned that your child or teenager may be suffering from bulimia, or if they have been diagnosed with an eating disorder and you are looking for professional support, we can help.
Bulimia Nervosa, most commonly known as bulimia, is a serious mental health condition that involves consuming large quantities of food (bingeing) compensated by purging behaviours, such as self-induced vomiting, laxative, diuretic or enema usage, excessive exercise or fasting.
The binge and purge cycle is then repeated – this may be several times a month or even as often as several times a day.
Eating disorders in children and teenagers can be extremely complex – and research has suggested that they are caused by several factors including biological, genetic and environmental.
It is thought that as much as 60% to 80% of our risk in developing an eating disorder could be genetic.
Hormonal changes during puberty have been shown to be linked to an increased risk in developing eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia – it seems that hormones such as oestrogen have a role to play in how the genes that have been linked to eating disorders are expressed .
Some children may become bulimic as a way of managing difficult emotions. Bingeing on food is a way some people cope with overwhelming emotions, perhaps stress or anxiety about school performance or difficulties with relationships. The purging (most commonly in the form of self induced vomiting) is then used to rid the body of calories ingested.
Bulimia is a complex mental health disorder – the earlier treatment is sought, the more likely a full recovery can be made.
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Bulimia is a progressive illness, meaning it often gets worse over time.
The following are some of the most common signs that an eating disorder, such as bulimia, may be developing or has developed.
Not all children and teenagers with bulimia will show all of these signs, and as eating disorders are notoriously a very secretive illness, it can be hard to really know what is going on for your child.
If you are concerned about your child or teen’s eating habits, weight loss, mood or behaviours we would also recommend seeking expert help as quickly as possible.
Identifying whether your child or teenager has an eating disorder and broaching the subject with them can be very challenging. Bulimia is an incredibly secretive disorder – surrounded by a great deal of shame and embarrassment and your child may get very defensive when talking about it.
It’s hard for parents to know when their child’s eating behaviours become a significant issue but research shows that early intervention is the best way to determine a full recovery.
Many young people with bulimia are simultaneously in denial about having eating difficulties and believe that the condition benefits them in some way (e.g., helps them focus, evidences self-control and determination). Be prepared for your loved one to state that they don’t have any difficulties or even to say that you are the one with a problem for suggesting as much!
Tips for discussing your child’s eating with them:
If you're struggling with an emotional or mental health problem, call us now to make an appointment face-to-face or online - and take the first step in getting the support you need.