What is Bulimia?

Bulimia nervosa is a mental health disorder which results in patients changing their eating habits. Patients who have been diagnosed with Bulimia tend to show a similar binge-purge cycle meaning that they will eat large amounts of food during one sitting. Following this they will force themselves to be sick or may take laxatives to speed up opening their bowels.
Patients diagnosed with Bulimia may also have associated mental health conditions such as depression, low confidence and alcohol misuse.

Who gets Bulimia?

Anyone can get Bulimia and it affects children and adults of all levels of intelligence. Statistically speaking, females are more likely to develop bulimia when comparing to males. As it stands, 25% of the patients with Bulimia in Britain are male. Although the trend is increasing in males.

Can you catch it?

No, this is not a transmittable disease.

Although it has been noted that Bulimia can be caused by peer-pressure and may have some basis in familial genetics.

So what actually happens to the brain?

Some evidence indicates that the chemicals in the brain, such as serotonin, are found in altered levels in bulimics.

Patients who diet severely, such as those with Bulimia, end up causing a deficiency in their intake of proteins and amino acids. One particular amino acid called Tryptophan is needed by the body to synthesize Serotonin, therefore limiting the amount of serotonin in the body, leading to patients feeling hungry causing a "binge" episode.

How do you treat it?

There are many routes to treat bulimia. One which is often the first and most useful is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). One of the causes of Bulimia is social or peer-pressure to look "perfect", CBT attempts to address this issue.

Medication can also be used, antidepressants in particular may be suggested. This will be monitored by your GP or psychiatrist.

Can it be cured?

Bulimia is not a disorder that can be cured but with regular counselling and medical treatment the disorder can be kept under control. There are many Support Groups and Charities devoted to helping patients through this difficult disorder (names can be found below).

What's the likely outcome?

With effective treatment patients are likely to lead a normal life. A large part of the disease is anxiety, therapy and medication can help the individual to control this aspect. It is essential to realise how important the support of family and friends can be in the road to recovery.

What should I do if I think that my child has Bulimia?

It is key to spot the tell-tale but subtle signs. Family and friends may notice their relative developing an obsession with their weight and how their body looks. They may spend large amounts of time dressing but also asking for validation about their bodies. They may be seen to eat a large amount at meal times but then excuse themselves at the end of every meal. Individuals who spend a large amount of time in the bathroom following eating, perhaps with taps running or electrical items such as hairdyers turned on to disguise the sound of vomiting.

Other signs include raw and red knuckles from inducing vomiting, recurrent sore throats, frequent visits to the dentist with cavities and decay.

Any one of these signs on may indicate the patient is suffering from bulimia, it is important to realise though that these signs are not proof of the disease on their own. Patients who approach family members for help are more likely to recover from Bulimia. The first port of call should be to contact your GP.

Where can I get more information?

Information from the NHS
Mental health foundation
MGEDT A website specifically targetted at men with eating disorders


What is ADHD?

ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is the name for a group of behaviors which include difficulty paying attention and lack of concentration when compared to other children their age.

Some of the problems associated with ADHD can include:
Easily distracted
Trouble following instructions
Trouble listening
Losing possessions
Disliking sitting still
Fidgeting or bouncing
Talking excessively
Interrupting others
Behaving impulsively
Having difficulty waiting their turn

Many young people are naturally energetic and easily distracted, but ADHD is a disorder that can lead to more of these problems than usual and make them more severe.

Who gets ADHD?

Anyone can get ADHD and it affects children of all levels of intelligence. ADHD is more common in boys than in girls.

ADHD is usually diagnosed between the ages of 3 and 7. However it is possible for AHD to be diagnosed at any point in life. The behaviors associated with ADHD are often discovered after starting school. This is because the child has to concentrate and focus on new tasks in a new environment.

Can you catch it?

No, ADHD is a problem that occurs whilst a child's brain is developing. There are many genetic and environmental factors that can increase the chance of this happening. For this reason, ADHD can often run in families.

ADHD is more common in children who are born prematurely or underweight. It is also more likely to develop if there are any complications involving the brain during pregnancy or the early stages of childhood.

So what actually happens to the brain?

The exact cause of ADHD is not known, but experts think that there is an imbalance of brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) that carry signals inside the brain. A neurotransmitter called dopamine is thought to be affected in ADHD. This means that the brain systems controlling attention and stimulation do not work as they would if unaffected.

These changes within the brain mean that the behaviours associated with ADHD are more likely to occur.

How do you treat it?

ADHD is treated by support at school and at home. Your doctor or specialist will give you advice on the best way to help your child, depending on the kind of problems your child has. They might help you create strategies to deal with difficult situations, or give you advice on how to encourage good behavior.

The best ways to cope include planning the day, creating clear expectations and explaining boundaries. For example, you might be able to design a star chart for your child that rewards good behavior at the dinner table or following a routine to get ready for school. Teachers can receive advice on how to structure activities and give praise for small achievements.

You child might be able to receive social skills training, using role play to help them learn how to behave in social situations. Therapy might also be recommended to encourage your child to talk about their difficulties and think about how to deal with them more effectively.

There are several medicines that can be used to help treat ADHD, including methylphenidate (Ritalin), dexamfetamine and atomoxetine. These medicines work by trying to correct the balance of brain chemicals. Your doctor will only prescribe these medicines if they decide that it is necessary, but it is important to remember they are not a permanent cure.

Parents and siblings of children with ADHD can often feel stressed and overwhelmed. There are many resources available to help families deal with their worries, including those listed below.

Can it be cured?

There is no quick fix, but ADHD can be effectively managed. The symptoms often get better with age and early treatment can make a big difference. Some children do grow out of ADHD.

What's the likely outcome?

With effective management, children with ADHD can perform just as well as other children their age.

Sometimes the problems can affect a child's performance at school, but there are many strategies that you and your child's teacher can use to help your child achieve his or her best. These strategies involve the use of targets, praise and rewards - your doctor or specialist will be able to help you decide what is best.

Children with ADHD can sometimes have low self-esteem and can find it harder to make friends. You can discuss the problems your child has with his or her doctor, specialist or teacher so they can be treated effectively.

Although ADHD can be treated very well, children will often continue to have some of the symptoms as a teenager and sometimes as an adult too. There are many forms of help and support for teenagers and adults with ADHD. See below for details.

What should I do if I think that my child has ADHD?

If you think that your child has ADHD you should see your GP. The GP will ask about the symptoms or problems you are worried about. You will also be able to ask your GP any questions you have. They may refer you to a specialist who will decide the best way of managing the problems.

It is also a good idea to speak to your child's teacher or child minder, so that they are aware of the problems. Your child's school might have a specialist who will be able to support your child. The best results occur when teachers, doctors and parents or carers work as a team.

You can also get in touch with a support group for parents or carers who have a child with ADHD. See below for details.

Where can I get more information?

Information about ADHD from the NHS
The Hyperactive Children's Support Group
AADD-UK, a website for adults with ADHD, written by adults with ADHD
ADHD Help Guide

C-ment is a registered charity, Charity number: 801991