What Is Diabulimia?

sad woman looks afar while leaning over and holding her arms while thinking about the signs of diabulimiaDiabulimia, also known as “ED-DMT1,” is a serious eating disorder that primarily affects people with Type 1 diabetes. It involves intentionally skipping or reducing insulin doses to lose weight, leading to high blood sugar levels and potential long-term health complications.

Sanford Behavioral Health understands the complexities of eating disorders and offers compassionate and evidence-based eating disorder treatment. This condition often goes undiagnosed and untreated, but with the proper treatment, recovery is possible. Our patients can expect a supportive and specialized treatment program that addresses both the mental and physical aspects of diabulimia. Contact us today at 616.202.3326 to arrange a visit to Sanford Behavioral Health or to speak with a member of our team.

What Is Diabulimia?

Diabulimia is an informal term used to describe an eating disorder that specifically impacts individuals with type 1 diabetes. It involves purposefully tampering with insulin levels as a method of weight control. At the crossroads of diabetes management and body image concerns, this condition emerges when patients deliberately decrease or skip insulin doses, resulting in elevated blood sugar levels in an attempt to achieve weight loss.

The aftermath is many severe health complications, including diabetic ketoacidosis, neuropathy, retinopathy, and an increased risk for cardiovascular diseases. This condition not only destabilizes blood glucose levels but also takes a profound toll on mental health, necessitating a comprehensive treatment approach that addresses both the psychological aspects of eating disorders and the careful management of diabetes.

Recognizing the Symptoms of Diabulimia

While diabulimia is not officially recognized as a distinct medical diagnosis, it is essential to acknowledge the signs that may indicate someone is suffering from this serious condition. Recognizing these symptoms can lead to early intervention and a greater chance of recovery. Individuals with diabulimia might display several physical and behavioral signs, including:

  • Unexplained weight loss despite a healthy appetite
  • Persistent high blood glucose levels (hyperglycemia)
  • Repeated episodes of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA)
  • Avoidance of diabetes management, such as skipping insulin doses
  • Preoccupation with body image and fear of weight gain
  • Secrecy around eating and insulin management

It’s crucial to understand that those with diabulimia need compassion and support. Early and empathetic recognition of these symptoms is the first step to guiding individuals toward the necessary medical and psychological help.

The Dangers of Diabulimia

The health implications of diabulimia are severe and can manifest both in the short and long term. In the short term, people may experience frequent episodes of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). DKA is a life-threatening condition that arises when the body starts breaking down fats at an unsafe rate. The long-term complications of diabulimia are equally alarming and include an increased risk of several diabetic complications such as retinopathy, which can lead to blindness, nephropathy, potentially resulting in kidney failure, and neuropathy leading to nerve damage.

The consistent mismanagement of insulin can lead to cardiovascular diseases, stroke, and even premature death. It’s critical to address this condition with an integration of medical intervention for diabetes management and psychological treatment for the eating disorder to mitigate these risks and promote long-term health and stability.

Treatment Options for Diabulimia

Treatment of diabulimia requires an interdisciplinary approach that combines medical care, nutritional counseling, and psychological support. Sanford Behavioral Health offers tailored treatment plans to address the unique challenges associated with this condition.

Our clinical and medical teams and dieticians collaborate to restore healthy insulin levels and address the psychological factors contributing to diabulimia. Our eating disorder treatment provides our patients with:

  • Trauma-informed care
  • Health at every size/health in everybody’s approach
  • Psychiatrist-led medical team
  • On-staff dietitians
  • Meal support and clinical kitchen
  • Cooking and community excursions
  • Exposure therapy
  • Recreation therapy
  • Mindfulness, yoga, movement, and art therapy
  • Authentic staff, community, and connection
  • A full continuum of care for eating disorders, co-occurring conditions, addiction, OCD, self-harm, and depression

Each treatment plan is crafted with utmost care, considering the patient’s medical and psychological needs, to encourage comprehensive healing and a return to a healthier, more balanced life.

Call Sanford Behavioral Health for Support with Your Recovery

If you or a loved one is struggling with the challenges of diabulimia, reach out to Sanford Behavioral Health for specialized support on your journey to recovery. Our compassionate team understands the intricate weave of medical and psychological care needed to heal.

We are here to listen, provide expert treatment, and walk with you every step of the way toward a healthier, brighter future. Call us now at 616.202.3326 or contact us online to take the first step in improving your well-being.

addiction, eating disorders, mental health treatment

Sanford Behavioral Health is an addiction, eating disorder, and mental health treatment facility serving Greater Grand Rapids, Michigan, and beyond. Our mission is to promote mental health, resilience, and well-being. Our goal is to provide practical and accessible substance use disorder, eating disorder, and mental health treatment to our patients. Sanford is led by a multi-disciplinary team offering integrative residential, outpatient and telehealth programs.