Bulimia nervosa

What is Bulimia Nervosa?

Bulimia Nervosa is a type of eating disorder which often starts in early adulthood. People with Bulimia Nervosa worry excessively about their weight and shape.  They rate themselves in terms of their body size and how much they weigh.

People with Bulimia Nervosa are usually not underweight  - their weight is typically in the normal range. People with Bulimia Nervosa are caught in a vicious cycle of eating very large quantities of food (termed “binge eating”) and then vomiting, taking laxatives or diuretics (termed “purging”) or using excessive exercising and fasting in an effort to prevent weight gain. The binges usually involve eating large amounts of fattening foods that the person does not normally allow themselves to eat.  They then feel so guilty that they try to make up for it by purging.

These eating habits, which are usually hidden from others, can escalate and come to dominate the person’s life.

Physical and Psychological effects of Bulimia Nervosa

Physical Effects can include:

  • Tiredness
  • Bloating
  • Constipation
  • Irregular periods
  • A puffy face due to the swelling of the saliva glands caused by bingeing
  • Dental problems due to loss of enamel on the teeth caused by vomiting
  • Heart palpitations due to an imbalance in the electrolytes in the body which is caused by vomiting
  • Muscle weakness
  • Kidney damage

Psychological Effects can include:

People with Bulimia Nervosa usually have emotional difficulties such low mood, anxiety, and low self-esteem. Some people with Bulimia Nervosa harm themselves in other ways, such as by cutting themselves or drinking excessive amounts of alcohol

The Mental Health Foundation booklet All about Bulimia nervosa contains information on practical ways of dealing with this eating disorder

Self Help Manual for Bulimia