Definitions & Profiles

Profile of Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia is an eating disorder in which a person regularly binge eats then tries to prevent weight gain by self-induced vomiting, water pills, laxatives, fasting or extreme exercising. Bulimia nervosa is characterized by binge eating and inappropriate compensatory behaviors, such as vomiting, fasting, excessive exercise and the misuse of diuretics, laxatives or enemas. Although the etiology of this disorder is unknown, genetic and neurochemical factors have been implicated. Serious medical complications of bulimia nervosa are uncommon, but patients may suffer from dental erosion, swollen salivary glands, oral and hand trauma, gastrointestinal irritation and electrolyte imbalances (especially of potassium, calcium, sodium and hydrogen chloride). Studies have shown that up to 1 per cent of the population is suffering from bulimia nervosa at any one time, and this may well be an underestimate. Other studies show that up to 7 per cent of young women consulting their GP have the symptoms of bulimia nervosa. Treatment strategies are based on medication, psychotherapy or a combination of these modalities. Bulimia is also characterized by a secretive cycle of binge eating followed by purging.
   Bulimics are usually people that do not feel secure about their own self worth. They usually strive for the approval of others. They tend to do whatever they can to please others, while hiding their own feelings. Food becomes their only source of comfort. Bulimia also serves as a function for blocking or letting out feelings. Unlike anorexics, bulimics do realize they have a problem and are more likely to seek help.