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Beauty in The Eye of The Beholder: Bulimia Nervosa

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In a city of strangers, appearance is the only characteristic feature available to assess by others. Such an epidemic where certain physical traits are categorized as perfect, cause young ones undergoing adolescence to question their self and starve for acceptance in today’s society. Dissatisfaction with one’s image due to societal influence results in development of certain disorders. One of them being bulimia nervosa, a serious potentially life-threatening eating disorder characterized by periods of binge eating or excessive overeating followed by using laxatives, often vomiting, or excessive exercising. A process similar to bulimia was performed in olden times, where people would make themselves vomit just so they were able to consume more food. Bulimia has more than one causal factor. There are no advantages to such an eating disorder. The symptoms can range from weight fluctuations to fatal or permanent symptoms such as cardiac arrest, and infertility. Treatment methods for bulimia are often a combination of psychotherapy, antidepressants, and nutritional counseling.

There are 2 common types of bulimia nervosa; purging type in which individuals will engage in self-induced vomiting, or diuretics, or enemas after a period of bingeing. On the other hand, non-purging is where an individual will participate in excessive exercising, or fasting. The vicious cycle of bingeing and purging takes a toll on an individual’s body and mental well-being. Purging does not result in effective weight loss instead an individual gains weight. Bulimia causes problems with tooth enamel, due to stomach acids from frequent vomiting. An individual for the same reason also get gum infections, cavities, swollen facial glands, and inflammation of the esophagus. Likewise, causing damage to the digestive system, and producing electrolyte imbalances. Especially, a decrease in the levels of potassium and calcium can cause life-threatening heart and kidney problems. Also, bulimia causes chronic dehydration, irregular bowel movements, low pulse, anemia, fatigue, and low blood pressure. Most females suffering bulimia experience menstrual irregularities, and sometimes no menses at all, even after having a normal BMI. As a consequence, having complications in conceiving. In particular, disturbance in the level of hormones maintaining estrogen levels can lead to stopping of ovulating completely and the development of infertility. A study found that women suffering bulimia are twice as likely to seek gynecological help regarding fertility concerns as compared to the general population (Gurevich, 2019). It is also important to highlight, the emotional side effects of bulimia, such as social isolation, fear, low-self esteem, high anxiety, and depression. Despite, the struggles with bulimia one can overcome it with help of proper treatment and guidance. There are two main types of treatment methods; psychopharmacological and psychosocial treatments. In terms of psychopharmacological treatment, only a specific antidepressant is prescribed, namely fluoxetine. A study stated that patients who received 60mg of fluoxetine showcased the best response by reducing the bingeing and purging. However, psychosocial treatment for bulimia may range from individual to family psychotherapy sessions. Particularly, cognitive-behavior therapy helps one to normalize their eating pattern and identify unhealthy, and negative beliefs and replace them with positive and correct ones. A study found that approximately 50% of the patient’s severity reduced due to cognitive-behavioral therapy (Waller et al., 2013). CBT with medications is said to break the vicious cycle of bingeing and purging and it is more likely to help patients deal with underlying psychological problems.

In my opinion, the youth is greatly affected by bulimia. Most importantly, the influence society holds over the body image, people are willing to push their bodies to extremes for the desired look by everyone. One of the big reasons people choose to engage in bizarre weight loss techniques is to fit in with the culture. Every young girl and boy dream to be a fashion model and walk the runway. In reality, the ideal body considered in fashion industry is not a healthy body type. Arguably, being thin does not mean you are healthy, being healthy means getting proper nutrition in one’s diet and that can come in various body sizes. I believe that mental health is just as important. People going through mental abuse is just as bad as bulimia or mostly even the cause of bulimia. Sometimes, even sexual abuse can cause one to suffer bulimia because of depression. In short, thinking negatively of oneself does not give a good outcome, always staying positive and loving oneself is necessary. I support the idea that maintaining good self-esteem is the key to being content with oneself.

In conclusion, bulimia nervosa is a potentially life-threatening eating disorder. Once a disease like bulimia is developed, preventing it is not easy as it plays a big role in mental health, which in turn affects an individual physically. Through cognitive-behavioral therapy, an individual will achieve the best results. One needs to be positive and have to love themselves. 

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