Bulimia nervosa is characterised by binge eating, ie eating unusually large amounts of food and then purging oneself, usually by making oneself vomit or by using laxatives or diuretics.
Unlike anorexia, where the weight can fall dramatically, those suffering from bulimia can have a normal weight for their age, however, they do have a similar fear to those with anorexia – they fear gaining weight and are unhappy with their size. Their behaviour is often done secretly because they feel disgusted or ashamed, and hence bulimia can be difficult to spot. Also like anorexia, bulimics often have psychological issues like depression or anxiety.
Bulimia nervosa often results in physical problems such as oral or teeth-related problems, or issues with electrolyte imbalances and gastrointestinal issues.
Psychotherapy has proved effective in handling bulimia nervosa, especially cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT. CBT can be tailored to treat bulimia in an individual case and can change the binging and purging cycle, slowing it down and eventually removing it completely as a result of changing the person’s attitude to eating.