New Research Proves Bulimia Causes Change In Brain Function

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You’re hungry, so you eat. You eat until you are full and then you stop. Sometimes, you might eat a little more than you really should. Feeling full, you might lament about the mistake you made eating so much food, wonder what you were thinking (or what you weren’t thinking) and vow not to do that again. It’s possible that you compensate. Maybe you take a pill, you change your diet the next day, or you spend extra time at the gym. This is all relatively normal. Now, take it to the extreme.

You’re hungry and you start to feel paralyzed by anxiety that grows every time you get hungry. You get anxious when you’re hungry because you know there is a very real possibility that once you start eating you won’t be able to stop. You eat. Then you eat some more. You don’t stop eating until you feel so full you’re actually in pain. You don’t feel a little bit bad you ate so much. Intrusive and obsessive thoughts about what you’ve done, how horrible you are for doing it, and how you should punish yourself for it start to cloud your mind along with the euphoria of feeling so full. However, the euphoria is short lived because you are quickly consumed with overwhelming guilt which drives you to compulsive behavior. Instead of compensating in healthy ways like eating a bit healthier or going to the gym you purge. You purge because you have bulimia nervosa and this is it’s vicious cycle.

Purging in bulimia nervosa can take many forms. Some people compulsively exercise, some people abuse laxatives, others induce vomiting. Researchers have tried for years to understand what compels someone with bulimia to participate in the behaviors they do. Recently, two studies in Journal of Abnormal Psychology gave some insight. A brain which has developed bulimia responds differently to triggers of stress with alterations in appetite and a disconnect in satiation. Meaning, people with bulimia have a hard time controlling their hunger and knowing when they’re full. Using MRI, one study found that the brains of people with bulimia have more reward circuitry when it comes to taste. Similar to the way an alcoholics is prone to a binge on alcohol after tasting their first drink, someone with bulimia is prone to a binge on food after their brain responds to the taste of it. As a result, people with bulimia eat beyond their capacity. Then compensate through controlling mechanisms because they feel they have been taken so out of control of their bodies.


If you are struggling with bulimia, you are not alone. There is nothing to be ashamed of. You can find hope and recovery when you choose to go to treatment to work on your relationship with your body and food. At Avalon By The Sea we strive to restore health and integrity to mind, body, and spirit. For a confidential assessment and more information, call us today: 888-958-7511

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