Bulimia, also called bulimia nervosa, is a very grave eating disorder characterized by eating huge amounts of food and then forcefully emitting it out in a rather unhealthy manner.

People with bulimia are extremely calorie-conscious and constantly worry about their body weight, even if they are not actually overweight or suffering from obesity. Also Read: Obesity: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

As a result, being unable to control their appetite and cravings, they ingest massive quantities of meals, then use any possible means to get rid of the food they just swallowed, before it begins to get processed. These include prompting self-vomiting in their own system, excess use of laxatives, improper consumption of weight loss supplements, enemas and even attempting to eliminate water weight by taking diuretics.

Bulimic individuals even follow strict diets, intense exercise routines and frequent fasting regimes, without prior consultation with any physician, nutritionist, fitness trainer or dietitian.

A person who has bulimia experiences not only a severe eating disorder but also very low self-esteem, with a mental obsession over bodyweight, external appearances and attaining what they presume to be the perfect physique. Also Read: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

Hence people with bulimia require to advise about good eating habits, nutritional meals, as well as counselling from mental health professionals, to allay the anxiety and irrational fear in their minds, about being or becoming fat.


The exact cause of bulimia is yet to be determined. However, many reasons, including abnormal genetic influences, unstable emotional wellbeing, extreme pressure from people and society could lead to this life-threatening eating disorder.

Hereditary Factors:

People whose parents or close relatives who have an eating disorder may be more likely to develop an eating disorder, suggesting a possible genetic link. Being overweight as a child or teen may increase the risk.

Underlying Psychological Issues:

Emotional problems, such as depression, anxiety disorders or substance use disorders are closely linked with eating disorders. People with bulimia may feel negative about themselves. In some cases, traumatic events and environmental stress may be contributing factors.

Unhealthy Diet Trends:

People who diet are at higher risk of developing eating disorders. Many people with bulimia severely restrict calories between binge episodes, which may trigger an urge to again binge eat and then purge. Other triggers for bingeing can include stress, poor body self-image, food and boredom.


The distinguishing symptoms of bulimia nervosa consist of:

  • Being preoccupied with body shape and weight
  • Undue anxiety about gaining weight
  • Repeated episodes of binge eating
  • Forcing yourself to vomit after eating too much
  • Exercising often to avoid putting on extra kilos
  • Using laxatives, diuretics or enemas after eating when they're not needed
  • Fasting, restricting calories or avoiding certain foods between binges
  • Using dietary supplements or herbal products excessively for weight loss
  • Low self-esteem with poor body image
  • Fluctuations in weight happening very often
  • Hormonal imbalance resulting in enlarged glands in the face and neck

Diagnosis And Treatment

The mental health experts, psychologists and psychiatrists will initially question the patient on their daily eating habits and if they have witnessed any irregular changes in their body weight. A physical exam, along with blood and urine tests is also conducted, to detect any problems with digestion and waste elimination processes.

Furthermore, the doctor assesses the psychological wellness of the patient by means of a detailed questionnaire, to gauge their thought process towards weight gain and their self-perception of their own bodies, as positive or negative.

Once the diagnosis of bulimia is confirmed, the healthcare professional initiates the appropriate course of treatment. These comprise:

Counselling And Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy or psychological counselling, involves discussing bulimia and related issues with a mental health professional.

Prescription Medications

Antidepressants may help reduce the symptoms of bulimia and improve mood during instances of depression, anxiety, fear or tension when used along with psychotherapy.

Nutrition Education

Dietitians can design an eating plan to help the person with bulimia achieve healthy eating habits, in order to avoid hunger and cravings and to ensure ample nourishment. Eating regularly and not restricting calorie intake is important in overcoming bulimia.


If symptoms of bulimia nervosa are severe, with serious health complications, the patient needs treatment in a hospital. This will ensure regulation of normal dietary intake, ample fluid consumption and constant monitoring of mental wellness, to ensure complete recovery of the patient.