Bulimia : Eating disorders impact many people


Bulimia nervosa, sometimes referred to as bulimia, is a severe eating disorder that may be fatal. Bulimics may secretly overeat and purge in an effort to burn off the extra calories in an unhealthy way. Consuming enormous amounts of food without restraint is referred to as bingeing.

Bulimics may employ a variety of techniques to burn calories and avoid gaining weight. You might, for instance, abuse laxatives, diet pills, diuretics, or enemas after binging or frequently self-induce vomiting. You can also use other tactics like fasting, strict dieting, or overexerting yourself to burn calories and prevent weight gain.

Bulimics frequently worry about their weight and physical appearance. You might be very critical of yourself and yourself-perceived shortcomings. Since bulimia is more about one's self-image than it is about food, recovery can be difficult. However, receiving effective care can help you feel better about yourself, change your eating habits, and reverse serious issues. 


It is unclear what specifically causes bulimia. Numerous factors, such as genetics, biology, emotional health, societal expectations, and others, can contribute to the development of eating disorders.

How to check if you have Bulimia?

Seek medical attention as soon as you can if you have any bulimia symptoms. Bulimia can have a negative influence on your health if it is not treated.

Discuss your bulimia symptoms and sentiments with a mental health professional or your doctor. If you are hesitant to seek help, talk to a friend or loved one, a teacher, or someone else you trust about what you are going through. He or she can assist you in taking the initial steps toward effective bulimia therapy.

Risk Factors

Bulimia is more common in women and girls than in boys and men. Early adulthood or late childhood are common starting points for bulimia.

The following factors may increase your risk of developing bulimia:

Biology. The increased risk of eating disorders in people with first-degree relatives who have them may have an inherited component. Being overweight among children or teenagers may increase the risk 

 Disorders of the mind and emotions like depression, anxiety, and substance abuse are frequently linked to eating disorders. Bulimics could feel down about themselves.

Traumatic experiences and environmental stress may occasionally play a role in cases.

Dieting. Dieters have a higher risk of developing eating disorders.

disorders. Between binge episodes, a lot of bulimics severely restrict their caloric intake, which can lead to cravings for further binge eating followed by purging.

 Other factors that can lead to bingeing include stress, a negative body image, food, and boredom.


Signs and symptoms of bulimia can include:

  • Being too concerned about one's appearance
  • Anxiety about gaining weight pervasive
  • Consuming unusually huge amounts of food in one sitting on a regular basis
  • Feeling out of control while bingeing, such as being unable to stop eating or exerting any influence over your food choices
  • Forcing oneself to throw up or engaging in excessive exercise to prevent gaining weight following a binge
  • Using after-meal laxatives, diuretics, or enemas without a prescription
  • Calorie restriction, fasting or avoiding particular foods in between binges
  • Excessive dietary or herbal supplementation for weight loss
  • Your frequency of purging—typically at least once per week for at least three months—determines how severe your bulimia is.


Even while there is no certain way to end bulimia, you may encourage someone to make healthier choices or get treatment from a professional before things spiral out of control.

This is how you can assist:

  • No mention of their size or shape, encourage and reinforce a positive body image in your children. Encourage them to grow their confidence in things besides their appearance.
  • Enjoy frequent meals together as a family.
  • Do not discuss weight at home. Instead, concentrate on leading a healthy lifestyle.
  • Encourage appropriate weight-control methods instead of dieting, particularly when they involve fasting, the use of laxatives or supplements for weight loss, or self-induced vomiting.
  • Consult your doctor. He or she may be well-positioned to recognise early indications of an eating issue and help in its prevention.
  • If a relative is present consider supportively discussing these issues with a family member or friend who appears to have food issues that could be a sign of an eating disorder and asking how you can help.


Bulimia patients may require a variety of therapies, but combining psychotherapy and antidepressants may be the most successful way to recover from the condition.

In order to effectively treat eating disorders, treatment typically involves a multidisciplinary team that includes you, your family, your doctor, a mental health specialist, and a nutritionist with relevant experience. 

The following are some bulimia treatment alternatives and considerations:


Talk therapy usually referred to as psychotherapy or psychological counselling, involves talking with a mental health expert about your bulimia and associated concerns. There is evidence that the following types of psychotherapy lessen the symptoms of bulimia.:

You can normalize your eating habits using cognitive behavioural therapy, which will also help you spot and change any unhelpful, harmful thoughts and behaviours.

Family-based treatment assists parents in stepping in to stop their adolescent's unhealthy eating habits, assist the adolescent in regaining control over their eating, and assist the family in coping with the damaging consequences bulimia may have on the family and the adolescent's development.

Interpersonal psychotherapy helps to improve communication and problem-solving by addressing issues in your intimate relationships.

Consider researching which psychotherapy your mental health practitioner plans to employ and what research there is to support its effectiveness in treating bulimia.


Antidepressants may help lessen the symptoms of bulimia when used in conjunction with therapy. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor fluoxetine (Prozac), to treat bulimia, is available over the counter.

(SSRI), even if you are not depressed, may be helpful.

Diet instruction

Dietitians can assist you in developing a meal plan that will provide you with the nourishment you require and healthy eating habits that will keep you satisfied and reduce cravings. In order to recover from bulimia, it is crucial to eat regularly and refrain from reducing your intake.


Most of the time, bulimia can be treated outside of the hospital. However, you could require hospital treatment if your symptoms are severe and you have significant medical problems. Instead of inpatient hospitalisation, some eating disorder treatment programmes might offer day treatment.

Complications of Bulimia

Numerous serious and even life-threatening problems from bulimia can occur. 

Potential issues include:

  • Issues with social interaction and relationships, as well as low self-esteem
  • Dehydration, which can cause serious health issues like kidney failure
  • Heart issues including a rapid heartbeat or heart failure
  • Tooth decay and gum disease that is severe
  • Females' irregular or nonexistent menstruation
  • Digestion issues
  • Depression, bipolar disorder, personality disorders, or anxiety
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Suicidal behaviour, suicidal thoughts, or self-harm


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Page last reviewed: Mar 10, 2023

Next review due: Mar 10, 2025

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