What Is Bulimia Nervosa, Signs, and Symptoms?

What Is Bulimia Nervosa, Signs, and Symptoms?

Bulimia nervosa is a mental illness that is characterized by cycles of bingeing and purging what you eat. Bingeing means eating a substantial amount of food in a short period, while purging means throwing up what you ate or using laxatives to make yourself vomit. Bulimia nervosa can be life-threatening if not treated properly because it often leads to unhealthy weight loss behaviors and other serious health consequences. This article will talk about what bulimia nervosa is, what causes it, what the signs and symptoms are, and how treatment for bulimia nervosa works.

What is bulimia nervosa?

Bulimia nervosa is a mental health condition that causes people to go on a “binge and purge.” This means that someone with bulimia nervosa will eat and then throw up what they’ve eaten (or do other things like taking laxatives).

One of the most common signs is what might be called “food obsession,” meaning that they spend most of their time thinking about what they want to eat or what they’ve already eaten. Other symptoms include:

  • self-induced vomiting (sometimes with the help of fingers)
  • compulsively chewing food without swallowing
  • making themselves vomit after eating
  • fasting or limiting their food intake
  • using laxatives or diuretics
Bulimia Nervosa Infographic

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Causes of bulimia

The causes of eating disorders are many and varied but can be attributed to a wide range of factors. These include genetic makeup as well as neurochemical imbalances or environmental stressors such as exposure to trauma or abuse in childhood on top of other psychological issues including anxiety disorder, depression, low self-esteem, etc.

Some researchers have found that while genetic risk plays a vital role in the development of bulimia, it’s not all individuals with a family history will develop this illness. And many people without any known links to eating disorders also get diagnosed with bulimia or other similar mental health conditions like Anorexia Nervosa.

The reason for these findings could be due to how hard-wired our brains are by genetics, which means they cannot easily distinguish between what might happen naturally versus something caused by environmental influences


If you have bulimia, the consequences of untreated illness can be severe and even life-threatening. Complications include:

Electrolyte Imbalance

Electrolyte imbalances can be a constant risk for those living with BN due to common electrolyte loss, which results from compensation behaviors. The body needs essential ingredients such as sodium, potassium, and chloride to function at its optimum capacity; if these minerals are purged without replacement, then levels will fall, resulting in disrupting the delicate balance of this system.

Digestive Problems

Laxatives can be abused to cause discomfort in your bowel movements, leading you into a dependency that often causes constipation. If this practice is discontinued, it may result in peptic ulcers or other problems with the stomach and small intestines!

Neurological Effects

Eating disorders are a serious issue that can have lasting consequences for both mental health and physical well-being. We know that the brain needs electrolytes, like potassium chloride sodium, or calcium, to send electrical signals throughout our bodies – so dehydration will affect how these chemicals work inside you! Severely imbalanced fluids could lead to muscle cramps or even seizures because neurons don’t function properly when they’re not getting enough water.

Bulimia nervosa treatment

People with eating disorders are at risk for many other harmful health risks besides what we reviewed here. Some are reversible, while others may not be treated or reversed until the individual seeks help early on in their illness progression – which is critical if you think that someone close could potentially have bulimia nervosa symptoms developing soon enough! Early intervention has been shown throughout periods as highly effective when combating this terrible disorder; The sooner one gets treatment before any permanent damage has occurred, the better off they will likely end up emotionally and physically.

Our team of therapists at Springsource Psychological Center is trained to provide you with the best possible treatment for eating disorders.

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