It is no secret that most athletes feel an enormous amount of pressure to perform at their personal best during game time. Not only are they expected to excel in their sport of choice, but they must also work to achieve and maintain an ideal body type. If an athlete competes in a sport that puts a great deal of emphasis on personal appearance, speed and agility, they are much more likely to develop an eating disorder, such as bulimia nervosa. Certain sports, such as wrestling, gymnastics, running, figure skating and cheerleading are more likely to trigger eating disorder behaviors than others like football or basketball. If an athlete goes to extreme measures to maintain a certain body shape, they are putting themselves at risk for a variety of different physical and psychological health conditions, including eating disorders like bulimia nervosa.

What Is Bulimia Nervosa?

Bulimia eating disorder is a very common mental health disorder among athletes. Characterized by a recurring cycle of binge-eating and purging, bulimia nervosa often begins when restrictive dieting fails. It is common for those with bulimia nervosa to binge on a larger-than-average sized meal after restricting calories for days or even weeks. To compensate for the large number of calories consumed, they will purge by self-induced vomiting, excessive laxative use, diet pills, excessive exercise and/or fasting. However, unlike some people with anorexia nervosa who may show outward signs of their eating disorder, some people with bulimia nervosa are able to maintain what medical professionals would consider to be an appropriate weight for their age and height.

When an athlete develops bulimia eating disorder, they put themselves at a greater risk for severe health complications as they are already demanding so much from their bodies in an effort to perform in their sport. Bulimia nervosa places a great deal of stress on the body. When combined with training efforts, athletes can lose fluids more quickly than others, experience extreme weakness, dangerous heart rhythms and have low potassium levels.

What Are the Warning Signs of Bulimia Nervosa in Athletes?

Identifying bulimia nervosa in athletes is not always easy, but perceptive family members and coaches may notice the signs first. Before choosing a bulimia treatment center near you, look for these common signs and symptoms:

● Becoming overly concerned with weight and body shape
● Depression and anxiety
● Visiting the bathroom after meals
● Excessive weight loss or weight gain
● Becoming overly critical of one’s body
● Excessive dieting followed by binge-eating episodes
● Menstrual irregularities

When to Search for Bulimia Treatment Centers

Early intervention is important when seeking treatment for anorexia and bulimia nervosa, especially in young people and athletes. The longer a person lives with an eating disorder, the higher the risk they will have long-term health issues related to the condition. Athletes may experience malnutrition, low blood pressure, electrolyte imbalances, dental erosion and abnormal heart rhythms as a result of bulimia nervosa. Eating disorders in athletes are very serious and, in many cases, can be life-threatening. Working to identify the type of eating disorder is an essential first step toward recovery. If loved ones notice any of the common signs associated with bulimia nervosa, it is important to act quickly to discuss eating disorder counseling at a bulimia treatment center.

Clementine: Treatment for Anorexia and Bulimia Nervosa

At Clementine and our affiliate programs, we provide support for athletes and their families as they begin on the path to recovery from bulimia nervosa and other common eating disorders. By offering both medical and psychiatric care services, we give athletes access to the highest level of care outside of a hospital setting. Call 855.900.2221 or contact our admissions office to learn more about bulimia treatment near you.