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Bulimia The Psychology Service
Bulimia Nervosa

What is Bulimia Nervosa?

Bulimia Nervosa is an eating disorder which, unlike Anorexia Nervosa, does not necessarily involve weight loss. The person can be of normal weight or even overweight.

What are the symptoms?

The sufferer repeatedly eats in binges. In a binge episode the patient consumes much more food than normal, often of high calorie and starchy food, and they feel that their eating is out of control. They repeatedly control weight gain by inappropriate means such as fasting, self-induced vomiting, excessive exercise or abuse of laxatives, diuretics or other drugs. They are very concerned about their weight and physical appearance, and often have very poor self-esteem.
The more common type of Bulimia is the “purging” type in which the person often induces vomiting or misuses diuretics or laxatives. In the less common “non-purging” type they fast or exercise excessively but do not often induce vomiting or misuse diuretics or laxatives.

How long does it last?

Typically Bulimia Nervosa begins in late adolescence or early adult life, and persists for several years. It can become chronic and can relapse, although it can resolve. There is little data on the long-term outcome.

What is the treatment?

CBT has been used effectively, normally on an out patient basis. Except in the most severe cases, in patient treatment is not usually necessary.

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