Archive for the ‘bulimia’ Category

Eating Disorders and Pregnancy

February 29, 2008

Eating disorders and pregnancy

Having an eating disorder can have serious consequences on one’s health. When the body is not getting significant nutrition, it may respond by stunting bone growth and allowing it’s muscles to waste away. One of the most important muscles in the body is the heart, and unhealthy weight loss can result in an irregular heartbeat, low blood pressure, and the very real possibility of cardiac arrest. While these problems affect one’s health to a great degree, there can be an even greater strain placed on the body when one is pregnant and has an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia. In this article, we’ll discuss the problem and offer some help when it comes to dealing with it.

The damage that is done to the human body through an eating disorder can truly have a negative effect on a woman’s endocrine system. This system is crucial when it comes to proper pregnancy, as it regulates the hormones that are responsible for proper development. For that reason, some women who have had eating disorders that they’ve successfully treated in the past may still be threatened with the aspect of having a risky pregnancy. Sadly, roughly twenty percent of all female visits to fertility clinics are made by women who have had an eating disorder in the past.

If you currently have an eating disorder and you’ve become pregnant, it’s important to do all that you can to save yourself from the disorder before the baby’s health is threatened. You should immediately seek the help of a physician or a counsellor in order to bring your body back to where it needs to be. Unfortunately, women who have eating disorders face a much higher risk of miscarriage. There is also a greater chance of having the baby prematurely, which can result in a host of developmental problems. Also, those with eating disorders need to consider how pregnancy works. Babies sap much of the nutrition that their mothers eat, so if your own health is not stable, your child’s life can be threatened as well as your own. Women with eating disorders often have low levels of calcium, and when the foetus begins to demand calcium, osteoporosis may occur, causing your bones and teeth to become weak and brittle.

Another thing to consider is the mental state that you are in. If you are busy being concerned about your self-image due to an eating disorder, you may be unable to give your growing child the attention that it needs. Before making any decision about becoming pregnant, be sure to consider all of the facts when it comes to the child’s development. Do your best to get yourself back to a healthy way of living before considering bringing a child into the mix; the resulting stressors can heavily outweigh your desires for having a child. Make a responsible decision before you do anything rash, and be sure that you’ll be able to provide a loving and peaceful setting for a child should you decide to have one.

Article by Mike Serov

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letter from bulimia sufferer

February 28, 2008

 

This is an extract from a letter I received this morning, written by a woman suffering from bulimia. I wish to protect her identity so it is anonymous… She describes so clearly how it is to suffer from bulimia – an illness often side-lined or ignored as “taboo” in comparison to anorexia nervosa…

 

 

 

Thankyou for your message Wenna.

I can understand how you must feel about body image. Only with love of ones self, can you really see how beautiful you are.

Anorexia is a hell.

I recently viewed an episode on an intervention talk show that is aired in America, called ‘Dr. Phil’. One of the episodes featured an anorexic girl who had severe problems with binging and purging. You cold obviously tell that her extreme low weight made avoiding binging and purging, extremely difficult. Her body was at a point where the need to eat over-rid her, but she always compensated her binges with purging. Up to 150 times a day.

She is an absolute shock to look at. Extremely emaciated.

I think one of the reasons I developed this binging and purging obsession once I reached a certain low weight is similar to the girl’s reasons. I have tried so hard to spend my day not giving into it.

But I just cant.

The girl also stated that her binges have left her with no food and money and she has regularly shoplifted to fuel her compulsion. I feel very ashamed to admit this, but that is where I am.

I cannot stop this. I promise I have tried so hard. But I cannot escape.

I live alone without any family and friends. My dislike for my body and my huge problem with body dysmorphia makes socialising far too difficult. I live alone in a flat. My day is spent going out food shopping and shoplifting, and binging and purging in the evening. I have never eaten a meal normally for literally years. I cannot eat at all and keep food within me.

 

Woman over 25 with eating disorders

February 14, 2008

Information about eating disorders in women over 25

Eating disorders are not only for young teenaged girls. The stereotype has been proven wrong year after year as children, adults, seniors and men are diagnosed with anorexia, bulimia and binge eating syndrome.

In general, men develop eating disorders later than woman, and the onset of bulimia is later than anorexia. We are also facing the relatively new problem of long-term anorexia and bulimia. Individuals who were diagnosed in their teens but received no successful treatment, and who are now in their thirties or fourties.

The following information is taken from:

http://eatingdisorders.suite101.com/article.cfm/eating_disorders_in_adult_women

The article is called “What happens after Recovery?” by Lori Henry.

“One of the recent phenomenon is the discovery that adult women are still struggling with these issues. Those who had suffered in their teen years were still effected, but could not be diagnosed with an eating disorder because they fell under the radar for specific symptoms.

There is also a huge jump in women who develop eating disorders later in life, usually due to the many changes and stressors that present themselves as their children grow up, they go through deaths, possible divorces, pregnancy, and age changes their perspectives and bodies.

Not many studies have been done, though, on adult women who suffer from full blown eating disorders and especially those who are suffering but are not quite diagnosable.

In Trisha Gura’s new book, Lying in Weight: The Hidden Epidemic of Eating Disorders in Adult Women, she diligently explores this hidden epidemic that is ruining millions of people’s lives. Chock full of scientific research, personal stories and the author’s own experience, the read is both a fascinating and shattering one.

The book doesn’t stop there, though. Trisha also provides answers to difficult questions about eating disorders in adult women’s lives, as well as inspiration for those dealing with these issues.

What happens when girls with eating disorders grow up into adults? We hear from them in direct stories about their struggles and how aging has effected their latent eating disorders.

Women she interviews range in age and experience, but all share the growing battle with disordered eating. One woman is 92 years old and developed anorexia in her senior years because “there was just too much she wanted to do in her later years” (Lying in Weight, Harper Collins, 2007).

Trisha Gura is not only someone who empathises with the subject matter, she is a scientist herself and has spent 15 years as a medical journalist. She holds a doctorate in molecular biology and has written extensively in such publications as Science, Nature, Scientific American, the Chigaco Tribune, the Boston Globe, Child, the Yoga Journal and Health, to name a few.

Above all, she offers hope to those suffering or who know someone who is suffering. Mixed in with her scientific research are the women’s stories themselves who have shared their own experience in order to shed light on their age group.

Lying in Weight: The Hidden Epidemic of Eating Disorders in Adult Women is available from Amazin and is a great read for laypeople and professionals alike”.

addiction?

February 13, 2008

 

 

 

 

Are eating disorders an

 

 

 

 

 

 

addiction?

 

 

 

Can compulsive eating be compared to an addiction like compulsive gambling?

 

Is the chemical hit produced by periods of starvation similar to that of heroin?

 

Are eating disorders an addiction?

 

 

…This is surely one of the most controversial and emotionally laden subjects in the mental health field. In this article I will explore ways in which an eating disorder is (and isn’t) like an addiction…

 

 

 

 

I personally do not subscribe to the idea that anorexia, bulimia and binge eating are addictions. This is because eating does not create the biological dependencies which are implicit in addiction to drugs such as nicotine or crack cocaine.

For example, chemical changes occur within the body of an alcoholic so that they physically need alcohol to function in a “normal” way.

 

 

When I suffered from anorexia I was emotionally and mentally dependent on starving. There were a million reasons why I felt “unable” to eat, and physically I was unable to digest very much food because my stomach had shrunk. But I did not physically need to starve so that I could function. My need not to eat was primarily mental rather than physical.

 

 

 

 

“Addictive personality”…?

 

Up to date research suggests that only 5% of drug or alcohol users become chemically addicted and that particular personality “types” are most likely to become dependent, regardless of the chemicals used.

 

 

Certain childhood behaviours may predict adult addictive tendencies… there are “early warning” signs. You only have to sit in an AA or NA meeting to hear people in recovery describe how they knew they were an “addict” long before they ever picked up their first drink or experimented with their first drug.

 

 

Common features include childhood feelings of inadequacy, loneliness and isolation. Children who are very shy or very loud. Unhappy children who use ritualistic behaviours to soothe their internal pain. Repetitive tapping or stepping, talking to one’s self, making up secret “rules” to manage anger or anxiety.

 

 

When I was a child I said individual prayers on behalf of everybody, everybody I knew, every night. I even said a prayer from the people I didn’t know. I said one from the people I would meet one day and another from those I would never meet. I said extra prayers in case I forgot anybody… it took hours. I wasn’t a religious child, but I would wake up guilty and terrified if I forgot anybody.

 

I never stepped on cracks, I only sat on the floor at home, I touched things the same number of times with my right hand and then my left. I walked the long way to school to avoid passing the Golden Labrador pup. All the children loved to pet him ~ but I couldn’t bare to leave him. I couldn’t go until I saw another kid in the distance and knew he wouldn’t be alone.

 

I failed miserably to communicate with children my own age and preferred to play by myself. I wasn’t bullied, but I had no friends. I could go on and on… mostly small, quiet things which nobody ever noticed; but my childhood was a series of carefully balanced rituals planned to avoid or justify feelings of guilt. Such disassociative actions could be perceived as the early emergence of addictive behaviour.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Addictions and Eating Disorders

 

 

 

Shared Characteristics

 

 

Eating disorders certainly share many characteristics, symptoms and behaviour trends with addictions. It is common to hear people describe themselves as being “addicted” to chocolate or salty foods. They also feel deprived when they can not eat these foods and crave them.

 

 

People with eating disorders (for example anorexia) may achieve both an emotional and physiological “high” when starving. A bulimic might experience stress release of tension relief when purging. Compulsive eating can provide both a rush of energy with sugar, than drowsiness when satiated. At the beginning, there is always a “reward”.

 

 

 

Some shared

 

 

 

characteristics:

 

 

Secrecy

 

 

Deception and lies (e.g. pretending to have eaten)

 

 

Ritual (Rules and specific patterns of eating, a particular routine for vomiting, etc)

 

 

Pre-occupation (constantly thinking about food)

 

Use of a behaviour or drug to “cope”

 

 

Prioritising compulsive behaviour or addiction above all else

 

 

(e.g. above relationships, finance, physical and emotional health) etc

 

 

Illegal behaviour to support behabiour (such as shoplifting)

 

 

Social withdrawal and depression

 

 

Gradual reduction in the “positive” effects of their disorder or addiction and an increase in drug or behaviour use to compensate.

 

 

Ultimately, eating disorders can become the centre of a person’s life in the same way as any chemical addiction and sufferers are likely to feel emotionally unable to cease damaging behaviours.

 

 

The relationship between eating

 

 

 

 

 

 

disorders and chemical addiction

 

 

 

 

 

Statistically, there is no hard evidence to suggest that people with eating disorders are more likely to have alcoholics or chemical addicts as close family members. I personally find this surprising to the point of disbelief.

 

 

The majority of sufferers I know have some family experience of addiction.

There is evidence to suggest that somebody with a close family member who has an eating disorder is four or five times more likely to develop one themselves. But this could be learned behaviour. We already know that amongst young girls who are not genetically related, a single sufferer can significantly increase the risk of eating disorders in her peers.

 

 

Finally, there is much written about the prevalence of cross addiction or co-morbidity. It is indisputable that a huge amount of people with eating disorders also suffer from a chemical addication or self-injury (self-harm). There is so much to say on this subject… I guess that’s another blog.

 

 

Addiction or not – an addiction model can be a helpful form of treatment. OA (which adopts the AA 12-step recovery model) provides free self-help groups world wide. And whilst the abstinence model may be negated (a person with an eating disorder must learn to manage eating healthily if they wish to recover) the emphasis on peer identification, openness, acceptance and personal responsibility can be empowering and supportive.

 

 

Interested in this subject? You may find the short film below helpful………

 

 

 

The Reality of Bulimia…..

February 10, 2008

 

Bulimia

The true horror of eating disorders is minimised. Whilst the media and social forums glamorise anorexia as being “heroin chic” ~ bulimia nervosa is almost completely ignored as socially taboo.

Adding to the problem is the fact that the Welsh medical community still diagnose the severity of an eating disorder in terms of bmi (low body weight). This entirely inadequate diagnostic tool all but disqualifies severe bulimics from accessing a level of help appropriate to their need.

Bulimia does not always cause low body weight. In fact, severe bulimics who consume huge quantities of high calorie, sugary food before purging are more likely to be slightly over-weight. This is because their body digests a percentage of the food they consume almost instantly.

Bulimia kills

Bulimia kills. It causes a range of chemical imbalances in the body which trigger cardiac arrest (stopping the heart) or brain damage.

Bulimia can also cause gastric rupture (rupture of the stomach), leading to death. Lung collapse, internal bleeding, stroke, kidney failure, liver failure; pancreatitis and perforated ulcers. Depression and suicide are a high cause of fatality in bulimics. The affects of binging and purging on an unborn child are brutal and irreversible.

This short film documents some of the fatalities resulting from bulimia nervosa. (There is another, far more brutal film at the end of this blog entry).

minimised

The physical affects of

 

Bulimia Nervosa

Malnutrition
Dehydration
Electrolyte imbalance (Can lead to cardiac arrest, which can also result in brain damage by stroke.)
Hyponatremia
Damaging of the voice
Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
Teeth erosion and cavities, gum disease
Sialadenosis (salivary gland swelling)
Potential for gastric rupture during periods of binging
Esophageal reflux
Irritation, inflammation, and possible rupture of the esophagus
Laxative dependence
Peptic ulcers and pancreatitis
Emetic toxicity due to ipecac abuse
Swelling of the face and cheeks, especially apparent in the lower eyelids due to the high pressure of blood in the face during vomiting.
Callused or bruised fingers
Dry or brittle skin, hair, and nails, or hair loss
Lanugo
Edema
Muscle atrophy
Decreased/increased bowel activity
Digestive problems that may be triggered, including Celiac, Crohn’s Disease
Low blood pressure, hypotension
Orthostatic hypotension
High blood pressure, hypertension
Iron deficiency
Anemia
Hormonal imbalances
Hyperactivity
Depression
Insomnia
Amenorrhea
Infertility
High risk pregnancy, miscarriage, still-born babies
Diabetes
Elevated blood sugar or hyperglycemia
Ketoacidosis
Osteoporosis
Arthritis
Weakness and fatigue
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Cancer of the throat or voice box
Liver failure
Kidney infection and failure
Heart failure, heart arrhythmia, angina
Seizure
Paralysis
Potential death caused by heart attack or heart failure; lung collapse; internal bleeding, stroke, kidney failure, liver failure; pancreatitis, gastric rupture, perforated ulcer, depression and suicide.

 

 

 

Bulimia in the UK: Fast facts

 

Approximately 1-2 percent of women in the UK suffer from bulimia.


Every year there are as many as 18 new cases of bulimia nervosa per 100,000 population per year.

Between 1 and 3 percent of young women are thought to be bulimic at any given moment in time.

According to some studies, as many as 8 percent of women suffer from bulimia at some stage in their life, and it affects about 5 percent of female college students.

People who have close relatives with bulimia are four times more likely to develop the disease than people who do not.

Studies indicate that about 5 out of 10 people with bulimia are healthy 10 years after diagnosis; while 2 out of 10 still have bulimia and 3 out of 10 are partially recovered.

Approximately 5 percent of bulimia sufferers go on to develop anorexia nervosa.

 

The final film/audio here really brings home the horror of death by of bulimia nervosa.
Please be aware that this film contains some graphic imagery and is explicit re. details of death. Although I am familiar with reading about stomach rupture and organ failure, I personally find the narrative deeply upsetting.
I spent a long time considering the merits of including such a film, and have decided to do so; because the majority of people who access this blog are sufferers and for them it may be of benefit. That said, I do not reccomend that everyone watch it.