Definition: Bulimia nervosa is a type of eating disorder that involves bingeing, or eating large amounts of food, and then purging.
Bulimia nervosa is a type of eating disorder that can be potentially fatal. It involves repeated cycles of binge eating and purging behaviors. Such behaviors can lead to many physical health issues.
Anyone can be impacted by bulimia nervosa. People from different socioeconomic backgrounds, races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, genders, abilities, and more can and do struggle with this illness.
People with bulimia nervosa will experience symptoms in different ways. This doesn’t make anyone’s journey anymore or less valid, it’s just important to remember that your own journey is unique to you.
- Social withdrawal
- Issues with body image
- Repeated bingeing behaviors (eating large amounts of food in one sitting)
- Feeling a loss of control when binge eating
- Repeated purging behaviors (behaviors to compensate for binge eating)
- Excessive exercise
- Unusual behaviors around food and meals
People may experience some or all of the above symptoms. In some individuals, there may be additional symptoms including anxiety, depression, and others.
It’s important to note that having bulimia nervosa, or any eating disorder, doesn’t have a ‘look’. Weight loss and changes in appearance are side effects and are not part of the disorder itself. If you’re struggling with disordered eating urges, habits or thoughts, you ARE sick enough and deserve proper care and support.
Eating disorder recovery entails working both on one’s physical and mental health and each journey will be unique to an individual. Treatments can include:
Some individuals may benefit from certain medications, such as antidepressants, to help with symptoms. In some cases, medical or hospital intervention may be necessary. This may involve weight restoration, treatment for certain conditions, such as throat or stomach ulcers, dental problems, heart arrhythmias, and more.
It’s best to talk to your health team when looking at treatment options. They can recommend and guide you through what could be the best fit for you and your well-being.
I have a loved one experiencing bulimia nervosa, how can I help?
If you have a loved one who is struggling, having an open conversation about how you can best support them can mean the world. For example, asking how you can best support them on their journey. You could offer to help with chores, send them a message to let them know you’re thinking of them, etc. Simply being a friend can often be the best thing to do. Maybe even working on a well-being plan with your loved one that may be useful to both of you.
Understanding this condition is also immensely helpful. It can help you and your loved one to better work with what they’re going through. Realizing that their eating disorder is an illness and not them can also be useful to both of you. It’s equally important to also remember to take time out for yourself for self-care.
It’s important for those struggling to know that you can fight and recover from bulimia nervosa. You can find ways to heal from it. There is always hope and people who care about you who will support you on your journey.
Voices of Hope wants you to know that your life has value and you are deserving of help, care, and support. You can fight bulimia nervosa and you can heal from it and live the life you want to. We understand how difficult mental illnesses can be, but you are worthy, and you are strong. You can get through this. Reach out and keep fighting. You are not alone in your fight. We believe in you. And remember that there is ALWAYS hope.
Resources and Links:
- Mental Health Foundation NZ - Bulimia Nervosa
- NZ Eating Disorders Clinic - Bulimia Nervosa
- Love Your Kite
- Cleveland Clinic - Bulimia Nervosa
- Bite Back by Sarah Harry
- The Mighty - Bulimia Nervosa
- ED.org - Getting Help
- Eating Disorder Hope
- The Body Love Society
Voices of Hope does not offer direct mental health services and our team is not comprised of trained mental health professionals. If you require assistance, we recommend visiting our resources page for helpful information.
If you are in immediate risk of harm to yourself or others, or need advice for someone in your life that is at risk of immediate harm to themselves, please contact your local emergency services.