Bulimia nervosa, bulimia for short, presents itself as an eating disorder involving eating large quantities of food and then ridding the body of the food. However, this disorder is actually a signal of deeper psychological issues. Overcoming bulimia is a process of regaining control over one's life and can take years. Family members and friends can play a vital role in the bulimia patient's battle by looking for signs of relapse in the patient. It is important to intentionally look for and spot signs of relapse in patients trying to hide their bulimic activities.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Look for physical signs such as brittle nails, dull eyes, brittle and dull hair, callused knuckles, bloodshot eyes and unexplainable weight shifts of 5 to 10 pounds.
Listen for complaints involving insomnia, complaints of feeling tired and run down and reoccurring headaches.
Consider how easily patients bruise and how slowly the bruises heal. If medium and small bruises take a month or more to heal properly, this could be a sign of a relapse.
Take note of increases in weight, which can occur because of water gain as the body tries to retain water for homeostasis.
Hear complaints about sore throats and sore stomach muscles, which point to purging (vomiting).
Observe dizziness when bulimia patients stand up quickly and must grab something to keep from falling down.
Spot Medical Signs of Relapse in Bulimia Patients
Recognize feelings of low self worth accompanied by perfectionist desires.
Watch for depression, mood swings and overreactions to normal situations.
Observe feelings of worthlessness in the bulimic person during and after meals.
Listen for a distrust of compliments offered by others. For example, if you have told patient he looks nice, but the compliment is ignored or written off.
Spot Psychological Signs of Relapse in Bulimia Patients
Watch for large quantities of food being eaten or disappearing from the refrigerator or pantry in short amounts of time.
Look for hoarded food in the bulimic person's room.
Watch for the use of diuretic pills, laxatives, fasting and excessive exercise.
Check the history on the bulimic patient's computer to see if she visits websites promoting weight loss, if she is a minor under your care.
Keep tabs on the social life of the bulimic patient, especially when it comes to gatherings where food is involved.
Listen for the sounds of vomiting, especially after meals.
Spot Behavioral Signs of Relapse in Bulimia Patients
Tips and warnings
- Almost all bulimic patients relapse into binging and purging during the process of overcoming this powerful eating disorder. Encourage the bulimic patient to keep up the fight and strive for fewer relapses.