Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia Nervosa, like Anorexia, is indiscriminate when it comes to gender, race, age or economic background. People with Bulimia may be older than those with Anorexia, and many experience symptoms of both conditions.

An intense fear of weight gain permeates bulimia, but its main characteristics are periods of binge eating. This is when the person will eat huge amounts of food quickly and without control. This can often amount to thousands of calories consumed in one sitting. These binges are then followed by a panic driven attempt to compensate for all the food eaten in order to prevent weight gain. The sufferer may use a combination of self-induced vomiting or laxative/diuretic abuse in order to rid themselves of the binge – this is known as 'purging'. Other control methods such as extreme exercise or periods of starvation may also be undertaken.

The body weights of those with the condition may vary hugely, depending on the frequency of the binges and the relative effects of the bingeing and purging cycle.

While these eating patterns exist, the person may experience feelings of self-hatred, disgust and low self-esteem. Many people with Bulimia Nervosa also experience depression and poor mental health. Outwardly, the impression given may be one of confidence, competence and sociability. Even when sufferers are showing signs of other distress such as depression, the bulimia may be kept a secret.

What is happening?

Those who develop bulimia have described 'an aching void inside', which is a hunger they try to fill with food. The desperate need to fill this emptiness and ease the pain may trigger a binge. As the food is consumed, it then becomes something disgusting and the sufferer becomes equally desperate to expel it. Vomiting brings some kind of relief, and some people talk of a feeling of purity once the food has gone. A temporary high may be experienced and then the feelings of self-disgust resurface.

Possible Signs & Symptoms

“Whenever I have contacted SWEDA, I have always received a very quick response, and have felt completely safe to ask for help when I have needed it. There have been periods of time when I have not needed a lot of contact, and times when I have asked for frequent contact. Talking to the same person over a long period of time has meant I have had a consistent place to go for support, and this has been invaluable."

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