Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia Nervosa usually begins in late adolescence or early adulthood. Approximately one to three percent of adolescents and young adults develop bulimia nervosa, of which 90 percent are female. Bulimia nervosa is marked by a cycle of extreme dieting, consequent uncontrolled episodes of overeating (binge eating), and extreme measures to prevent weight gain (e.g., fasting and/or purging). Similar to anorexic patients, individuals with bulimia nervosa suffer from concerns with body image, however, they tend to maintain a normal weight.

Symptoms of bulimia nervosa include:

  • consuming large amounts of food while experiencing a sense of loss of control over eating
  • self-induced vomiting
  • laxative and diuretic misuse
  • intermittent fasting
  • excessive exercise

Bulimia nervosa includes a variety of medical complications that, although severe, are reversible with appropriate treatment. Symptoms can include:

  • dehydration and electrolyte imbalances
  • swollen salivary gland
  • gastrointestinal disturbances
  • dental deterioration
  • menstrual irregularities
  • dehydration
  • cardiac irregularities

Many individuals with bulimia nervosa also suffer from a variety of psychological problems including anxiety and depression.

Effective interventions for bulimia nervosa include cognitive behavioral therapy and family-based treatment. The outcome of treatment for bulimia nervosa varies; some individuals have the illness for a long period of time while others alternate between recovery and intermittent binge eating and purging. Research however does show that over time symptoms appear to diminish.

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