Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder that is difficult to diagnose without behavioral evidence. Although there are signs of bulimia, a person’s weight is not necessarily one of them. Thus, teens with bulimia may be thin, overweight, or have a normal weight.

What Is Bulimia Nervosa?

Bulimia nervosa, also called bulimia, is an eating disorder that combines binge eating (eating excessive amounts in a single sitting) with unhealthy behaviors to compensate for the overeating. To make up for binging, a bulimic—a person suffering from bulimia nervosa—compensates by purging. Therefore, methods of purging are the most common signs of bulimia. Moreover, these behavioral signs of bulimia may include forced vomiting, taking medications such as laxatives or diet pills, and heavy exercise. The purging-focused signs of bulimia are attempts to make up for extreme calorie intake.

Bulimia nervosa affects more girls and women than boys and men. Symptoms of bulimia nervosa include excessive worry about appearance and weight gain, repeated binge eating, and recurring visits to the bathroom. Additionally, because they are ashamed of their overeating and loss of control, bulimics tend to hide their eating disorder from others. Furthermore, teens with bulimia are likely to abuse diuretics and other weight-loss medications.

Health concerns caused by bulimia nervosa include an inflamed throat, intestinal distress, severe dehydration, and mental disorders, including depression and anxiety. Effective treatments for bulimia nervosa include psychotherapy, nutritional counseling, and inpatient support.

Sources: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services AdministrationOffice of Women’s Health (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)

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