Bulimia nervosa

Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia nervosa, often referred to simply as “bulimia,” is a type of eating disorder. With this disorder, individuals experience recurrent episodes of feeling a loss of control and eating large amounts of food, after which they take desperate measures to attempt to rid themselves of the extra calories. Recognizing the warning signs of bulimia is important, as the disorder can be devastating to one’s physical and mental health. With treatment, many individuals can recover from the disorder completely.


The behavioral symptoms may vary depending on the person. However, common behavioral symptoms include, but are not limited to:

  • Feeling out of control
  • 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
  • Hoarding food
  • Depression
  • Mood swings

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

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

Treatment and Therapies

Treatment and therapies may vary but treatment plans commonly include:

  • Psychotherapy
    • Various forms of psychotherapy are used in the treatment of bulimia nervosa. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most commonly used treatments. CBT is used to help teach individuals how to create normal eating habits and be aware of triggers that might cause one to binge or purge. A main focus of CBT is to help one replace negative thoughts with more positive ways of thinking.
  • Nutritional Therapy
    • Nutrition education can play an important role in the treatment of bulimia. A dietician can help one create a personalized plan for eating that allows for healthy habits to be created.
  • Medication
    • Antidepressants may be prescribed to help reduce the symptoms of 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 or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org to reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.