How do you die of bulimia

More and more women are developing a specifically female health awareness. In our series "Body and Soul" we describe the typical problems. Experts give you advice on how to stay healthy, women affected talk about themselves. Today: anorexia and bulimia - where does this addiction come from? Sweden's Crown Princess Victoria and the fatally injured Lady Diana experienced the disease. Eating disorders that turn young women into spindly bundles of nerves are often countered with a kind of kitchen psychology - it is often said that the social compulsion to be an ideal figure is to blame for everything. Klaus Amann (42), specialist in psychiatry and psychotherapy at the psychosomatically oriented Ginsterhof Hospital in Rosengarten, explains the background. MOPO: How many women and girls suffer from anorexia, how many from eating and vomiting? Amann: About every hundredth of the 10 to 25 year olds has anorexia, which means they are anorexic. About two to four percent of 20 to 30 year olds suffer from bulimia or eating and vomiting. A result of repeatedly being presented with unattainable ideals of beauty? It may be that there was a twiggy peak in anorexia in the 1960s, and that some models have had an unhealthy influence on growing women since then. But this is not to be blamed on your own. The cause of the disorder lies in childhood. Girls who simply cannot become independent because their mother is too strong often become anorexic. Not needing food is an expression of their fear of being dominated. In addition, the father is sometimes experienced as too weak, and the relationship between the parents and between them and the patient is experienced as insufficiently emotional. That is why we like to take the whole family into therapy - only that is often rejected by the parents. There may also be genetic causes of anorexia. You don't get anorexic overnight - how long do women suffer before they come into medical care? Four years on average. But then they are only at the family doctor. The chances of recovery are therefore not very good: a maximum of one third will regain normal weight. Ten percent end up starving themselves to death. What are the symptoms of true anorexia? Apart from the severe weight loss: There is no menstrual period, it comes to constipation, which is why many anorectics take laxatives to a completely exaggerated extent. And finally, the perception of their own body is almost always disturbed - they see themselves as too fat, go jogging like savages and hardly maintain normal social contacts. How closely are anorexia and bulimia related? Not that tight. Around half of bulimic women have suffered from pure anorexia. In the other half, a large part is actually overweight, acting out of fear of being too fat. But here, too, one should not only blame the diet terrorism; In most cases, the addiction to eating and vomiting is based on an additional disorder, above all depression. What can parents do if they notice any signs of either disorder? Little alone. The relatives hardly make a stab when they address the patient directly about the problem and demand improvement. Usually the doctor enjoys more trust. Brigitte P. was 17 years old, not particularly fat, not particularly slim when she started this first diet. In six weeks she lost four kilograms, heard praise from parents and friends. The story of a bulimic patient. "That praise back then, it was a good feeling," says the 29 year old from Barmbek. And so she went on starving effortlessly, eating only fruit and yoghurt on some days and nothing at all on others. "If I was stressed or something went wrong, it was a compensation. There was at least one thing that I could do." After months, the praise turned into incomprehension. Brigitte P. was no longer invited to dinner or parties. "I became very ambitious; I still felt too fat," she says. Mrs. P. discovered a better variant. She began to eat: salads, small sweets, heavy cakes. Then she vomited everything. She only weighed 47 kilos. "I thought of nothing more than food." People joked: "If you go outside, put on lead soles, it's windy", but no one noticed anything. And Brigitte P., who in the meantime masterfully concealed her inclination, herself least of all: "I had never heard of bulimia. I was so busy with myself." She lived like this for years; did her job in a nursing ward; hardly had any friends; ate and vomited. The acid ruined her teeth, developed stomach pains, and circulatory problems. "I had to notice it myself: If you keep going, you will die. Nobody else could have stopped me." At some point Brigitte P. called a counseling center and started therapy. "That was a relief, but also an admission: I had failed." Brigitte P. has been doing the therapy for two years now. "My weight isn't that important anymore," she says. "I've learned to deal with failure, not to take things so seriously." Still nobody suspects anything about the disease, only she told her father the other day. She said he didn't get it right.

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