Diabulimia: When Eating Disorders and Diabetes Mix

Willow Place on May 13, 2019
Diabulimia: When Eating Disorders and Diabetes Mix

The pair between eating disorders and diabetes is more prevalent than one might expect. In fact, women who are diagnosed with diabetes have an increased risk of developing diabetes. Unfortunately, as a person with diabetes, eating disorders behaviors can make medical issues worse. And, lead to a number of negative side effects including death. So, identifying these conditions and learning to live a healthy lifestyle is vital to recovery for these individuals.

Identifying What Diabulimia Is

Diabulimia is the term used to describe the phenomenon of a person diagnosed with type I diabetes and one or more eating disorders outlined by the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders by the American Psychiatric Association). Diabulimia is a social term coined by society throughout the media and other outlets. Scientifically, the diagnosis for a comorbid eating disorder and type 1 diabetes is known as D-DMT1, Eating Disorder-Diabetes Mellitus Type 1.

The Development of Diabulimia

In almost every case of Diabulimia, diabetes is diagnosed first. We know that those diagnosed with diabetes have an increased likelihood of eventually developing eating disorders. This may be due to the fact that managing symptoms of diabetes may include continuously monitoring food intake by examining labels, testing glucose levels, and balancing portions. This extreme and constant focus on managing food intake can lead to increased anxiety about food and eating in general. Other causes of developed eating disorders in individuals diagnosed with diabetes may include body image struggles, exhaustion from keeping up with diabetes treatments, and wanting to lose weight.

Am I Struggling with Diabulimia?

There are a few signs and symptoms one can look out for to determine if they or a loved one is struggling with diabulimia. Signs of diabulimia include both physical and emotional symptoms.

Diabulimia: When Eating Disorders and Diabetes MixEmotional signs of diabulimia include:

  • Concerns about body image, weight, and size
  • Poorly managed blood sugar
  • Eating in isolation and other avoidance behaviors
  • Poorly managed sleeping schedule
  • Obsession with exercise
  • A fear of lowered blood sugar levels
  • The insecurity of testing blood sugar levels in front of others
  • Increase in dietary restrictions including whole food groups
  • Fear of taking insulin because of the inclination that it can make a person gain weight
  • Following strict diets
  • Neglecting diabetic medical appointments and prescription refills
  • Experiencing depression and/or anxiety

Physical signs of diabulimia include:

  • High blood glucose levels
  • Weight loss
  • Feeling nauseous and vomiting
  • Bladder and/or yeast infections
  • Vision loss
  • Dry skin, dry hair, and brittle/weak nails
  • Delayed or missed periods
  • Exhaustion and fatigue
  • Diabetic ketoacidosis
  • Constant thirst
  • Frequent urination

LongTerm Consequences of Diabulimia

Sadly, those are diagnosed with both eating disorders and diabetes are at risk for more than just brittle nails and vision loss. Long term side effects of diabulimia can lead to even more debilitating conditions like kidney disease, heart disease, liver disease, chronic constipation, vasovagal syncope (fainting due to loss of blood pressure), peripheral neuropathy, coma, and even death. Because of these incredibly life-threatening risks, it’s important to seek help and a life of healing as soon as diabulimia is diagnosed.

Treatment for Diabulimia

Unfortunately, women who are diagnosed with both eating disorders and diabetes may have a harder time recovering than individuals who are diagnosed with only one of these conditions. Statistics show that women diagnosed with diabetes are less likely to graduate from eating disorder treatment and obtain lasting recovery. So, it’s important to seek eating disorder treatment which includes help with managing and addressing symptoms of diabetes too.

Searching for Treatment Which Includes Dual Diagnosis

Individuals who are living with diabulimia should get help to reduce the risk of long term side effects of the condition. However, treatment should include the addressing of both diabetes and eating disorders. Additionally, treatment should be specific due to the wide range and variety of eating disorders.

The Difference Between Bulimia and Anorexia

Here at Willow Place for Women, we know that every woman’s battle with eating disorders is personal. And, that each woman battles her own specific demons. That’s why we make it our goal to offer a comprehensive treatment plan as soon as each person comes to us for help that includes the medical history of concurring disorders like diabetes. This way, each woman can discover her own path to healing through the use of our educational tools, therapeutic approaches, and aftercare methods.

If you’re ready to begin the road to recovery from diabulimia, we’re here to help. Contact us today to learn more about our woman’s eating disorder treatment.

Request a Call Back

If you or someone you love is battling substance use, mental health, or eating disorders, please feel free to contact one of our trained admission specialists today. All calls are free and completely confidential. While we know that suffering from a severe and life-threatening substance use disorder or a mental health issue can, at times, seem insurmountable, we sincerely believe that every woman is capable and deserving of the opportunity to recover. Reaching out is the first step – give us a call today and we will gladly walk you through the process of beginning your beautiful, fulfilling journey of recovery.

Note: Your details are kept strictly confidential.