Eating Disorder Treatment Services

Getting Help With Purging Disorders

Different forms of purging can have similar physical side effects. These include dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, and vital organ damage.

Purging disorder (PD) is an eating disorder characterised by recurrent purging (self-induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives, diuretics, and enemas) to control weight or shape in the absence of binge eating episodes.

Because PD sufferers do not binge eat, their need for purging can be less urgent and it may be applied irregularly, or less frequently than with binge eating. However, the negative effects remain severe enough to cause health problems. Many purgers also limit their food intake, resulting in further shortages of vital elements needed to maintain health.

People affected by PD could be predisposed to developing a greater loss of control over eating behaviour, and may be vulnerable to progressing to more severe eating disorders. Research has shown that PD is a significant eating disorder that warrants professional intervention.

PD Compared To Bulimia and Anorexia

Purging disorder and the eating disorder bulimia nervosa both involve induced purging. However, bulimia includes heavy binge eating episodes, while people with PD only eat normal, even small, meals before purging.

Anorexia nervosa also involves purging, but anorexics pursue starvation to the point of emaciation, while being in denial of their skinny appearance. People with PD do not pursue starvation or emaciation. They may have a negative bias about their appearance, but are more realistic than anorexics about this.

Bulimics and anorexics regularly indulge in fasting and exercising, but PD is not associated with compulsive fasting or exercising.

What Causes Purging Disorder?

Weight stigma is a misplaced negative bias that depicts overweight persons as undisciplined, unpopular and unhappy. This is false stereotyping, but its prevalence can be overpowering and can inspire people to pursue leanness, even when it is not necessary.

Some common causes of PD are:

Signs of Purging Disorder

Common signs include:

People with PD avoid public eating places, eating at friends’ homes, or any venue where circumstances might prevent purging. They also tend to wear clothes that are too tight for them.

Consequences of Purging Disorder

Persistent purging can develop into a pseudo-addiction. Self-induced vomiting can increase certain hormone levels, resulting in good feelings that a person may want to recreate. It can also be difficult to stop using laxatives if the body starts relying on it for bowel movement.

Some consequences of PD are:

Treatment for Purging Disorder

There are too many variations in the composition of the human body for all of us to be super thin. However, instead of focusing on optimal health and personality, we may become so obsessed with leanness that it develops into a nightmare requiring professional help.

Eating disorders present complex, individualised challenges. Treatment can not be generalised. It requires cooperation between medical, dietitian and psychological professionals to heal it.

Medical treatment heals physical ailments caused by PD, and, if necessary, medication for stabilisation of emotional disturbances may be prescribed. Dieticians design recovery diets which are essential to avoid nutritional complications. Psychotherapy in a residential rehabilitation centre is recommended for psychological healing of the root causes of the disorder and for the prevention of relapses.

Purging disorder is an eating disorder characterised by recurrent purging (self-induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives, diuretics, or enemas) to control weight or shape in the absence of binge eating episodes.

Eating Disorder Treatment Services