It is very common, and at the same time, very painful to be struggling with unhealthy eating patterns. Haven Hills staff will work directly with you to design a treatment plan that is specific to your needs and goals. You don’t need to meet each of the diagnostic criteria or have a formal diagnosis of Bulimia to benefit from help and support. If you find yourself engaging in one or more of the behaviors of atypical bulimia as described below, seeking help now is the best answer. Early intervention increases your chances of successful behavior change.
Atypical Bulimia: What is it?
Bulimia nervosa is characterized by distortion of one’s body image coupled with an obsessive desire to lose weight, in which cycles of overeating is offset by self-induced purging, vomiting, or fasting. The individual who suffers from atypical bulimia, however, suffers from many, but not all of the corresponding symptoms. She may display all of the symptoms of bulimia nervosa, but not with the same frequency. There may be cycles of overeating and abuse of laxatives without significant change to her body weight. She may engage in these rituals without the typical extreme fear of weight gain.
Atypical Bulimia: Signs and Symptoms
The signs of atypical bulimia include the presence and disappearance of large amounts of food, eating in secret, periods of dieting or fasting with periods of overeating, and frequent use of the bathroom right after a meal. You may notice large amounts of money spent on food, but the absence of the food purchased. There may be evidence of a binge by way of food or take-out packaging in her car. There may be suggestions of purging in the bathroom, either from vomiting or large amounts of over-the-counter or prescription diet aids, laxatives, or diuretics.
Physical effects from atypical bulimia include frequent weight fluctuations, electrolyte imbalance, dehydration, acid reflux, broken blood vessels in the eyes, dental decay or gum disease, swollen glands in the neck, sore throat, esophageal inflammation or tear, cardiac arrhythmia or cardiac arrest.
Treating Atypical Bulimia
Atypical bulimia is a chronic but treatable disorder. Treatment begins with assessment with a mental health professional who specializes in eating disorders. Recommendation for treatment may include inpatient or outpatient care, depending on the person’s needs. It’s imperative that treatment is comprehensive, including care for co-occurring disorders such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, trauma, and others. Left untreated, co-occurring disorders resurface post-eating disorder treatment and perpetuate relapse of disordered eating patterns, further risking the individual’s health and wellbeing.
Treatment involves discontinuing the disordered eating behaviors, challenging and improving negative thoughts, changing beliefs about weight and body image, and healing emotional issues. Care includes psychological, emotional, medical, and dietary interventions by a collaborative team of providers which may include a clinical psychologist, a nutritionist or dietician, a psychiatrist, a physician, or others.
Treatment and recovery are empowering. Through identifying and healing the underlying emotional, psychological, social, and trauma issues, the individual is freed to experience her own thoughts, emotions, and beliefs with new confidence.
If you suspect that someone you know is struggling with atypical bulimia, call and speak to our supportive, knowledgeable staff. We can provide you with guidance to help your loved one get the support they need.
Recovery is possible. Treatment is available. We are here to help.