Bulimia Nervosa Treatment

What is Bulimia Nervosa?

Bulimia nervosa is characterised by binge eating, followed by compensatory behaviours. Individuals with bulimia nervosa often have a strong focus on shape and weight, and use this as the basis for their self-esteem and self-worth. It is important to note that you cannot tell who has bulimia nervosa based on weight.

Binge eating involves eating a large amount of food within a relatively short amount of time and feeling a sense of loss of control while eating. Compensatory behaviour are ways that individuals try to control their weight and shape after binge eating episodes. These can include things like exercise, vomiting, use of laxatives or restricting intake. Individuals with bulimia nervosa often find themselves stuck in a distressing cycle of bingeing episodes, followed by feelings of shame and disgust and resulting in compensatory behaviours.

Warning signs 

  • Difficulties with activities that involve food
  • Loneliness due to self-imposed isolation and a reluctance to develop personal relationships
  • Deceptive behaviours relating to food
  • Fear of the disapproval of others if the illness becomes known
  • Mood swings, changes in personality, emotional outbursts or depression
  • Self-harm, substance abuse or suicide attempts
  • Sensitivity to references about weight or appearance
  • Guilt, self-disgust, self-loathing
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Frequent trips to the bathroom, especially after eating
  • Food avoidance, dieting behaviour (this may be due to a fear of gaining weight and it may also be to avoid the unpleasant ritual of purging afterwards)
  • Fluctuations in weight

Medical risks

Bulimia nervosa is a serious mental illness that carries lots of medical risks, particularly in relation to compensatory behaviours. Medical complications can include:

  • Chronic sore throat, indigestion, heartburn and reflux
  • Inflammation and rupture of the oesophagus and stomach from frequent vomiting
  • Stomach and intestinal ulcers
  • Chronic irregular bowel movements, constipation and/or diarrhoea due to deliberate misuse of laxatives
  • Osteoporosis (a condition that leads to bones becoming fragile and easily fractured)
  • Loss of or disturbance of menstrual periods in females
  • Increased risk of infertility in men and women
  • Irregular or slow heart beat which can lead to an increased risk of heart failure
Bulimia Nervosa Treatment sydney

What next?

Recovery from bulimia nervosa is possible, whether it is a recent or long-term concern. The path to recovery can be challenging and it is important to have the right team of health professionals around you.

If there are any warning signs of an eating disorder, we recommend making an appointment with your GP as soon as possible for a medical check-up.

Information on this page was collected from the below sources. If you would like more information, we recommend visiting these helpful sites.

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If you or someone you love is struggling with eating concerns, please reach out.