Have you taken significant measures to avoid weight gain, like purging your food? Perhaps you watch what you eat or you eat normally, even healthfully, but you often purge food after you’ve eaten it. Purging can mean throwing up your food, using laxatives or diuretics, or using enemas. Planning to purge food takes some coordination, and that planning creates obsessive thoughts, and it can often dictate where you go and how you spend your time. Purging can sometimes create a physical or emotional high, and that sensation is something you might look forward to. But do you feel regret or shame, or troubling physical symptoms after you purge?
If these symptoms sound familiar to you, you might be suffering from purging disorder. Recovery from purging disorder is possible and we are here to help. Purging disorder can create significant physical and emotional suffering, but recovery is possible. Our comprehensive and compassionate approach to purging disorder treatment can help you reestablish a healthy relationship with food so you can feel emotionally balanced and physically healthy.
Purging Disorder: What is it?
Purging disorder is an eating disorder characterized by recurrent purging in order to control one’s weight or size. Some confuse purging disorder with bulimia, an eating disorder in which the sufferer compulsively over-eats and then expels the food by purging (self-induced vomiting, abuse of laxatives or diuretics, or though enemas or other means). But unlike bulimia, there are no binge eating behaviors present in purging disorder. Those who suffer with purging disorder purge regular amounts of food, even when a meal is considered light.
Those who struggle with purging disorder tend to isolate during or after mealtimes. They avoid social gatherings centered around food or settings where they will not have privacy to purge following a meal. As self-induced vomiting affects the brain chemistry, purging can become addictive. A person can actually feel “high” after vomiting. Repeating the behavior may, in part, be addictively chasing that “high.”
Who is at Risk for Purging Disorder?
Few studies have been conducted specifically on purging disorder, and statistics on which gender or age group is at greatest risk are not yet available. Many eating disorders begin as honest attempts to change or control body weight, but they can quickly become emotional coping mechanisms. The impact on self-esteem and body image through media is obvious. Some researchers believe the roots of eating disorders lie in untreated trauma, and there is some evidence that implies genetic predisposition and social pressure may also play a role.
Some Signs and Symptoms of Purging Disorder:
- Routinely going to the bathroom after eating
- Regular use of laxatives and/or diuretics
- Signs of self-induced vomiting, such as swollen cheeks, broken blood vessels in eyes, transparent or faded color in teeth, scrapes or calluses on knuckles
The Side Effects of Purging Disorder are Serious, and May Include:
- Electrolyte imbalance, dehydration, and anemia
- Low blood pressure and irregular heartbeat
- Damage to vital organs, such as heart, kidneys, liver, esophagus, and others
- Broken blood vessels in eyes which may interfere with vision
- Muscle fatigue and weakness
- Constipation, diarrhea, and gastroesophageal reflux
- Dependence upon laxatives for bowel movement
- Stomach ulcers, mouth sores, and dental decay
- Low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and attempt
Purging Disorder Treatment
Many individuals are resistant to getting help. They fear letting go of their behaviors, which become emotional coping mechanisms over time. Many sufferers believe that their behaviors actually help them more than they hurt. Shame is also a significant barrier to seeking help.
Treatment is most effective with early intervention. Often, purging disorder occurs alongside other addictions or it is a result of untreated trauma. Long-term recovery is possible, but unlikely unless comprehensive treatment is available to address all issues in one setting. Inclusive treatment involves psychological, psychiatric, medical, and nutritional assessments. Treatment may include individual as well as group therapies that employ tools such as cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). Comprehensive treatment will include ongoing medical and psychiatric care, when appropriate. Holistic therapies offer healing and tools for mood management as well as physical restoration.
If you or a loved one are struggling with purging disorder, treatment can help. Whether you’re in need of PHP, IOP, or transitional living, Our comprehensive, holistic, and evidence-based therapy can put you on the right track toward long-term recovery. Contact Haven Hills Recovery today.