Stomach Pains and Eating Disorders

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I’ve been making myself throw up after every meal i eat or just not eat and ive been doing this for a few years but recently ive had some different weird physical feelings in my body (like stomch pain and a few more things like that) but ive never told anyone, do i have to tell my parents?? They would absolutly flip out. I dont think the problem is that bad and was just wondering if i just saw someone in a health clinic at school for stomach pain if that can be enough. Thanks.

A. Seeing a physician at your college health clinic is a place to start but it is not “enough.” I am not certain if you realize this but purposefully making yourself vomit after meals is indicative of bulimia. Refusing to eat is a sign of anorexia. Both are very serious eating disorders. I cannot say for certain whether or not you have bulimia or anorexia. Only a physician or mental health professional who interviewed you in person could make that determination.

Eating disorders are dangerous. They can have very serious medical consequences. An eating disorder may be causing your stomach problems. Unfortunately, you may be experiencing the negative consequences that an eating disorder can have on the body. Frequent vomiting can also erode your teeth and lining of your esophagus. A lack of eating not only harms your body but makes it difficult to function well or to think logically.

Based on the tone of your letter, you are minimizing the seriousness of this problem. It is serious and your body is being negatively impacted. Vomiting and depriving your body of nutrients are taking a toll on your body.

I understand that you do not want to upset your parents but it is imperative that you are evaluated by a medical professional. Your parents would likely be more upset if you kept this problem hidden and your health problems progressed. The sooner you seek treatment the better.

Your college health clinic may be able to determine the cause of your stomach pains. If they believe an eating disorder is present, they may refer you for a psychiatric evaluation and treatment. Many colleges have excellent mental health services on campus. Campus services may not be enough to treat your possible disorder. If that is the case, you will likely be referred to more appropriate services.

I hope you realize the seriousness of your situation and are willing to accept help. I don’t mean to be an alarmist but if you do have an eating disorder, it is important that you seek treatment.

Thankfully, some members of the U.S. Congress realize the seriousness of eating disorders and have sponsored a new bill called the Federal Response to Eliminate Eating Disorders (FREED) Act. More information about the bill can be found here.

There is not enough known about eating disorders but treatment is available. Eating disorders usually have little to do with food and more to do with underlying emotional problems. The treatment typically involves a combination of learning how to change your behavior and dealing with the underlying reasons for why the disorder developed.

Thank you for writing. Please consider writing back and letting me know if you were able to access help. I wish you the best of luck.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 20 May 2010

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2010). Stomach Pains and Eating Disorders. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 24, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/05/20/stomach-pains-and-eating-disorders/

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