What is bulimia nervosa?
Bulimia nervosa is a psychological illness in which the person cyclically binges (eats a large amount of food in a short period of time) and then purges (attempts to get rid of the food or calories). The person may or may not fear weight gain after binging, but almost always has feelings of shame and guilt. Purging may also be an attempt to rid herself of these painful feelings.
Purging might be done by:
- Self-induced vomiting
- Taking laxatives or diuretics
- Exercising excessively
- Fasting, or eating very little, for a period of time
Signs and symptoms of bulimia nervosa
Unlike anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa is often difficult to identify because the sufferer is not usually underweight. Because of the shame and guilt associated with the illness, sufferers are skilled in masking the symptoms.
Early signs and symptoms may include:
- Avoidance of food, often in order to avoid the unpleasant act of purging
- Frequent visits to the bathroom during or soon after a meal
- Dental problems or advanced tooth decay (due to acids from vomiting)
- Weight fluctuations
- Social isolation, withdrawal, moodiness, and depression
Note: Although boys and men also develop eating disorders, the majority of victims are female. We will use the female pronouns “she” and “her” consistently throughout this website.
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