Overview of Bulimia Nervosa

Overview of Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder in which individuals have recurrent episodes of feeling out of control and eating large amounts of food, after which they take desperate measures to try and rid themselves of the extra calories. This repeating cycle can be devastating to one’s mental and physical health. Understanding the symptoms and warning signs of bulimia is important, as identifying them can help individuals receive proper treatment as soon as possible.


The behavioral symptoms of bulimia nervosa may vary depending on the person. Common behavioral symptoms include, but are not limited to:

  • Recurrent episodes of binge eating
  • Recurrent inappropriate compensatory behavior to try and rid body of excess calories by self-induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives, fasting, or excessive exercise
  • Feeling out of control
  • Hoarding food
  • Depression or mood swings

The physical symptoms and complications of bulimia nervosa may vary depending on the person. Common symptoms include, but are not limited to:

  • Erosion of tooth enamel
  • Gum infections
  • Sore or inflamed throat
  • Dehydration
  • Gastroparesis
  • Lowered sex drive
  • Irregular heartbeat

Treatment and Therapies

Treatment and therapies may vary but treatment plans commonly include:

  • Psychotherapy
    • Cognitive behavioral therapy is often used as it helps teach individuals how to create normal eating habits and be aware of triggers that might cause one to binge or purge. Focus is placed on replacing negative thoughts with more positive ways of thinking.
  • Nutritional Therapy
    • Nutritional therapy can be beneficial to some as they work with a dietician to recognize the needs of their body
  • Medication
    • For some people, medication such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs may be prescribed to treat bulimia. Currently, there are no medications directly for treating eating disorders, but eating disorders are often co-occurring with other illnesses such as depression or anxiety, and medicine can help treat these underlying issues.



  • To contact the NEDA Hotline, call or text (800) 931-2237
  • If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs immediate help, call the toll-free  National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL)  at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week