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Bulimia and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have an undeniably close relationship in which the binge-purge cycle is the lesser of two evils and cloaks the emotional pain of traumatic memories. Shame. Powerlessness. Fear. Anxiety. Panic.
Bingeing and purging anesthetizes these feelings but the feelings return, so one binges and purges again, and the bulimic cycle begins. Rates of PTSD in women with restrictive anorexia (10%) are almost equal to the general population, but about 25% of women with binge-purge behaviors have PTSD. In a study of 293 women in residential treatment for eating disorders, 74% said they had experienced a significant trauma, and more than half reported symptoms consistent with PTSD.
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