Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by frequent purging that occurs after binge eating, or after eating anything at all. Teen bulimia treatment is usually needed for those who binge eat and purge at least once per week for at least three months. A person may engage in purging via vomiting or with the use of certain medications, such as laxatives and diuretics; these behaviors are often conducted in secret due to shame as well as fear that the behaviors will be interrupted. While binge eating disorder is characterized by frequent binges without the presence of purging, and anorexia nervosa is characterized by voluntary starvation and malnutrition, bulimia is often recognized due to the signs of frequent vomiting without necessarily affecting weight.
Bulimia can be traced back through history to the days of ancient Rome, when nobles were known to indulge in lavish feasts and subsequently purge their food. Because bulimia is not as glamorized as anorexia, there is not as much portrayal of the disorder in the media. When a discovery is made that bingeing and purging behaviors have occurred, parents can often question why it may be happening. Today, we understand bulimia can stem from both genetic and environmental factors. These factors range from biologically inherited traits to the influence of the environment in which one lives, and the societally constructed concepts of beauty, and self-worth which one may be exposed to through peers and in the media, as well as within the family system.
Even in teens who recognize their symptoms, breaking away from the thoughts and behaviors associated with bulimia is difficult due to the addictive nature of the behaviors as well as the feeling of control and temporary relief a teen might experience through the disorder. At Visions Treatment Centers, we approach teen bulimia treatment by tackling the factors contributing to their negative self-image and low self-worth. Teens are encouraged to explore and restructure their negative self-talk while challenging fear foods and incorporating more balance and self-care into their routine. An eating disorder can often present to numb out difficult feelings which prevents teens from attacking their problems and speaking up about what is really bothering them. We work with adolescents to identify how their eating disorder serves them, and how to better meet their unique recovery needs through teen bulimia treatment.