Women in the Marines with Bulimia

Women in the Marines with BulimiaBulimia nervosa is an eating disorder delineated in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR). This disorder is characterized by regular compensatory behaviors that rid the body of excess calories of binge eating. The DSM-IV-TR recognizes the following variations of these compensatory behaviors:

  • Purging – Self-induced vomiting or excessively ingesting laxatives to induce diarrhea
  • Non-purging – Excessive exercise, abusing stimulants, fasting from food and smoking to suppress appetite

Both variations are compulsive and can cause harm both physically and emotionally.

Signs of Bulimia Nervosa

According to the DSM-IV-TR, the diagnostic criteria for bulimia include the following issues:

  • Discretely eating an amount of food that is larger than most people would eat
  • A lack of control over eating during the episode
  • Recurrent compensatory behavior to prevent weight gain
  • Binge eating and compensatory behaviors that occur at least twice a week for 3 months
  • Self-evaluation is unduly influenced by body shape and weight

Any one of these behaviors warns against bulimia, and multiple behaviors indicate that the person needs professional help.

Causes of Bulimia in the Military

Body appearance, stress, depression, low self-esteem and social pressure contribute to bulimia in the general population, but military personnel are also subject to these variables. However, the military environment has additional factors that may contribute to bulimia, including the following problems:

  • Due to regularly scheduled weigh-ins and physical fitness testing, women feel increased pressure
  • Women entering military academies feel significant pressure to perform at the same level or above men
  • Military women face the same societal pressures to acquire a model-like physique
  • Soldiers may only have access to high-calorie, high-fat foods
  • Frequent moves and field deployments make meal planning difficult
  • Stress associated with combat often leads to eating for comfort

These industry-specific factors on top of the societal causes of bulimia overwhelm many female marines.

Treatment for Bulimia

Many therapies address bulimia, including cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. However, the first step in getting treatment is reaching out for help. Overcome your embarrassment, fight the stigmas and make your health a priority by seeking help. The first step is the hardest, but it may save your life.

Help for Women Marines with Bulimia

The sooner you get help for bulimia, the greater the chances of recovery. We understand that many people stigmatize eating disorders, so you may not want to talk about it. Therefore, to be assured of confidentiality and to receive answers to your questions, call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline any time. We want to help you find the right treatment program to handle your bulimia, and we can provide you with options and information about insurance and resources. We are here to help, so reach out to us today.