What is Bulimia Nervosa?

Bulimia Nervosa is an eating disorder. As with other eating disorders, bulimia nervosa can lead to serious health problems, but effective treatment is available.

People with bulimia nervosa can consume enormous amounts of food in one session. A person with bulimia nervosa finds it difficult to control their eating during a binge. They may then use ‘purging’ methods to try to get rid of the food. This can involve deliberate vomiting, taking laxatives, extreme exercise, or other methods. People with bulimia nervosa may also use strict dieting or fasting or take diet pills to compensate for the binges. Although bulimia includes binge eating, there is a separate disorder called binge eating disorder. Unlike people with bulimia nervosa, a person with binge eating disorder will not use compensatory methods such as self-induced vomiting or over exercise to try to control weight after binge eating episodes. Eating disorders are often a secret problem. Many people feel ashamed of and afraid to seek help. Bulimia nervosa causes serious damage to physical health and wellbeing. If you believe you or someone you know is suffering with bulimia nervosa, contact us at Alegna Solutions Psychology Practice today.

What are the Symptoms of Bulimia Nervosa?

Some of the common symptoms of bulimia nervosa include:

  • Not being able to control what you eat
  • Being secretive about eating
  • Visiting the bathroom after eating
  • Over-exercising
  • Being very self-critical or obsessed with body image
  • Having dramatic fluctuations in weight (unlike people with Anorexia Nervosa, people with bulimia nervosa are usually not underweight)
  • Feeling moody, guilty or ashamed
  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Swollen cheeks or jaw area
  • Teeth that look clear instead of white and are increasingly sensitive and decaying.
  • Broken blood vessels in the eyes
  • Irregular heartbeat (cardiac arrhythmias)
  • Low blood pressure (hypotension)

Some people with bulimia nervosa also have other mental health concerns, such as anxiety and depression. Some even have suicidal thoughts or make suicide attempts.

What causes Bulimia Nervosa?

There is no single cause of bulimia nervosa. It is thought to develop from a combination of genetic and environmental influences.

These are some of the factors that can increase someone’s risk of developing bulimia nervosa:

  • Genetic factors: having a parent or sibling with an eating disorder.
  • Childhood trauma: such as a physical or sexual abuse
  • Personality: low self-esteem, perfectionism, or impulsiveness.
  • Stress: life events or chronic stress can trigger the onset of bulimia nervosa
  • Mental disorders: such as depression, personality disorder or addictions

Bulimia nervosa usually starts with a feeling of unhappiness about body image and weight. This is very common in today’s world and many people feel pressure from society and the media to be thin. Before bulimia nervosa begins, there is often a period of excessive dieting. However, the wrong kind of dieting can cause uncontrollable hunger and lead to binge eating. Feelings of guilt and shame after binge eating then cause the person to try to compensate by purging.

Are there Complications of Bulimia Nervosa?

Bulimia nervosa can cause serious damage to psychical health, especially if purging is involved. Some of the psychical symptoms of bulimia nervosa may include:

  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Severely inflamed sore throat
  • Chronic dehydration
  • Dry skin
  • Swollen face or neck
  • Worn tooth enamel or tooth decay.
  • Intestinal problems due to laxative abuse
  • Heartburn or stomach ulcers
  • Malnutrition
  • Hair loss or hair changes
  • Intolerance to cold
  • Fainting
  • Calluses on knuckles (from trying to cause vomiting)
  • Bad breath
  • Heart failure


Like other eating disorders, a multidisciplinary approach to treatment is the most effective. We can offer advice on which options may be the most appropriate. Purging can cause life-threatening electrolyte imbalances, so some people with bulimia who purge regularly may need to be hospitalised if they have serious heart or kidney problems.

  • Psychotherapy
  • Nutrition Counselling
  • Medications

These are a couple things that may help with bulimia nervosa. We at Alegna Solutions Psychology Practice can help diagnose the issue with a mental health assessment. After diagnosing what’s wrong, we can help provide ways to cope with this eating disorder especially the feelings of guilt, shame, or moodiness. We may even recommend keeping a mood diary or encourage practicing mindfulness. There are many ways to help with Bulimia nervosa but the best way to start would be to book a visit with us. We can walk you through the best solutions for your physical and mental health.