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Anxiety and Stress Disorders (Children)

Information on Bulimia

10/16/2002

Question:

My daughter is a 19 year old college sophmore who lives at home. I think she is bulimic. I have asked her about this several times and she denies it and gets very angry at me. I don`t know what to do. Do you have any suggestions? Thank you very much.

Answer:

Bulimia is an insidious problem that develops in adolescent girls when self-esteem issues and body image problems press upon the individual in such a way as to allow for unhealthy and potentially health damaging binging and purging behaviors to develop. Typically these binging and purging episodes are done out of sight of peers or parents. I take it that your suspicions about your adolescent`s behavior is based on either witnessing some of this behavior or by noting other life-style changes which suggest as much. I would consult her physician about the basis for your suspicions and push that she receive a physical exam. Bulimia can be revealed in esophageal damage, dental and tooth enamel irregularities, and in extreme cases, bone density changes. Bulimia of a chronic nature can lead to severe and sometimes irreversible health damage. I would press on with your investigation to avert long term health consequences. 

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Response by:

Floyd R Sallee, MD
Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati