Bulimia nervosa is a psychological eating disorder with episodes of eating large amounts of food at one time. During such overeating, you may lose a sense of control over your diet. Later on, you may try inappropriate weight-loss strategies such as overuse of laxatives, vomiting, starvation, and obsessive-compulsive movements.

Let us now try and understand bulimia better.

What Are The Causes and Risk Factors of Bulimia?

The major risk factors for bulimia are mental health conditions or a distorted view of reality. The same is true if you strongly need to meet social expectations and norms and are highly influenced by the media. Other factors include:

  • Depression.

  • Perfectionism.

  • Anger issues.

  • Past traumatic event.

  • Impulsiveness.

What Are The Symptoms of Bulimia?

The following symptoms may accompany bulimia:

  • Obsessive thinking about your body shape and weight. 

  • An abnormally large amount of food being eaten at a time.

  • Vomiting or exercising excessively after binge-eating to avoid gaining weight.

  • Use of laxatives (a type of medicine that can treat constipation), diuretics (substances that help rid your body of salt and water), and enemas (inserting liquid or gas into the rectum) to empty the bowels and prevent weight gain.

  • Excessive diet control and using herbal dietary supplements for weight loss.

What Are The Long-Term Effects of Bulimia?

The body is designed to consume food, absorb essential nutrients, and eliminate those that are not essential for the body's optimal functioning. Therefore, it is not astonishing that the behaviour in bulimia nervosa can have serious long-term effects on the physical functioning of the body, including:

  • Digestive problems.

  • Arrhythmia/cardiovascular problems/heart attack or heart failure.

  • Cardiomyopathy (enlargement of the heart).

  • Coronary artery disease (buildup of plaque in the arteries).

  • Periodontal disease (infections and inflammation of the gums) and tooth decay. 

  • Mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, and substance use disorders.

  • Dehydration.

  • Increased suicidal thoughts.

  • Irregular menstrual cycle 

  • Issues with getting pregnant.

How Do You Diagnose Bulimia?

The diagnosis of bulimia nervosa requires that you meet the following criteria:

  • You might feel that you have no control over your thinking and cannot stop eating.

  • Using inappropriate behaviour (also known as "compensatory behaviour") to prevent weight gain.

  • Both bulimia nervosa and compensatory behaviour occur at least once a week for three months.

Self-Care for Bulimia

The treatment of bulimia includes psychological counselling and the use of medications such as antidepressants. In addition to adhering to your treatment plan, you can also take care of yourself by following these things:

  • Take care of your body: A healthy and nutritious diet along with exercise will help you keep your weight in check. 

  • Connect with other people: Any mental health issue requires support from family and friends. Talking to someone might be helpful.

  • Avoid triggers: Understand what causes the anxiety about your weight, like seeing a weighing scale, standing in front of the mirror, etc., and avoid these triggers. 

Bulimia can be a serious condition if untreated. Try to understand your eating patterns and avoid stressing excessively about your weight. If you feel you have uncontrolled emotions regarding your eating habits, seek help from a mental health professional.

Disclaimer: This article is written by the Practitioner for informational and educational purposes only. The content presented on this page should not be considered as a substitute for medical expertise. Please "DO NOT SELF-MEDICATE" and seek professional help regarding any health conditions or concerns. Practo will not be responsible for any act or omission arising from the interpretation of the content present on this page.