Home Eating Disorders Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia Nervosa is a serious psychiatric illness characterised by recurrent binge-eating episodes (the consumption of abnormally large amounts of food in a relatively short period of time), followed by compensatory behaviour (purging or overexercising). Binge episodes are associated with a sense of loss of control and immediately followed by feelings of guilt and shame, which  leads the person to compensatory behaviour (purging) such as self-induced vomiting, fasting, overexercising and/or the misuse of laxatives, enemas or diuretics.

A person with Bulimia Nervosa usually maintains an average weight, or may be slightly above or below average weight for height, which often makes it less recognisable than serious cases of Anorexia Nervosa. Many people, including some health professionals, incorrectly assume that a person must be underweight and thin if they have an eating disorder. Because of this, Bulimia Nervosa is often missed and can go undetected for a long period of time.

Bulimia Nervosa often starts with weight-loss dieting in the ‘pursuit for thinness’. The resulting food deprivation and inadequate nutrition can trigger what is, in effect, a starvation reaction - an overriding urge to eat.  Once the person gives in to this urge, the desire to eat is uncontrollable, leading to a substantial binge on whatever food is available – often foods with high fat and sugar content, which is followed by compensatory behaviours. A repeat of weight-loss dieting often follows, perhaps even more strictly – which leads to a frantic binge/purge/exercise cycle which becomes more compulsive and uncontrollable overtime.

To download a fact sheet on Bulimia Nervosa, please click here

Read more:

Physical effects of Bulimia

Psychological effects of Bulimia

Behavioural effects of Bulimia

Books about Bulimia

Books about eating disorder recovery


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