What Is Bulimia Nervosa?

Bulimia nervosa, commonly known as bulimia, describes a type of eating disorder. People with bulimia nervosa tend to eat large amounts of food in a short time, called binging, immediately followed by purging processes like induced vomiting, taking laxatives, fasting, or excessive exercise habits.

Bulimia nervosa is a mental health challenge that can significantly impact a person’s physical health and overall well-being when unrecognised or left untreated.

People with bulimia nervosa often have low self-esteem about their physical appearance and body shape. This state of mind is frequently accompanied by an intense fear of gaining weight and an unhealthy obsession with weight loss. After binge eating, individuals purge to avoid gaining weight and to feel a sense of control.

People can overcome bulimia nervosa with the proper emotional support and care and live a fulfilling and rewarding life again.

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What Causes Bulimia

A wide range of factors can contribute to developing an eating disorder. Bulimia nervosa can affect people of any age and gender. However, the most vulnerable people seem to be the groups of young teenagers who are building and developing their self-image.

Experts suggest the following risk factors as the possible cause of bulimia, including:

It’s important to highlight that not all people with bulimia nervosa will experience the same or all of the abovementioned symptoms. In addition, the latest trends in physical appearance make people create unrealistic body images that can negatively affect a person’s mental health and physical well-being.

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Symptoms of Bulimia

The symptoms of bulimia may vary from person to person. The first sign usually starts with creating a negative self-image that typically appears to go worse if unnoticed. In contrast to other eating disorders, like anorexia nervosa, people with bulimia may not experience drastic weight loss, so noticing symptoms can be more challenging.

Common symptoms of bulimia nervosa include:

Bulimia nervosa often comes with different physical symptoms, such as:

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How Is Bulimia Diagnosed

To be diagnosed with bulimia nervosa, a person needs to show some behavioural and physical characteristics that may indicate an eating disorder.

There are several behaviours that may help with diagnosing bulimia nervosa, including:

Bulimia nervosa is diagnosed by a medical professional who will conduct thorough physical exams and blood tests to exclude other possible conditions that may cause similar symptoms. The crucial element in diagnosing bulimia nervosa is a correct psychological evaluation that will include a person’s eating habits and self-perception.

It’s important to understand that bulimia nervosa may have serious or even life-threatening consequences to an individual’s life. Therefore, instead of prejudices and stigma, people should provide emotional support and understanding to everyone dealing with a mental health challenge, including an eating disorder.

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Bulimia in Girls

Whilst an eating disorder such as bulimia nervosa can develop in people of any age and gender, studies show that females are more susceptible to bulimia than men.

Bulimia nervosa mainly occurs in teen girls and younger women between 15 and 19 years old and girls in their early 20s. The higher prevalence of bulimia in women is generally caused by the unrealistic beauty standards raised by society and social media.

Similarly, girls often tend to develop a negative image of their physical appearance and body shape in the periods of transition from childhood to young adulthood, known as puberty. In this process of developing self-awareness and self-perception, many girls often have a distorted self-image that might lead to different mental health issues, including eating disorders.

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How Is Bulimia Treated

The treatment of bulimia nervosa includes a set of approaches that embrace the mental and physical health of the individual. In all cases, promoting acceptance and emotional support by family and friends is crucial for the person to overcome this mental health challenge.

The best practices for treating bulimia include psychotherapy, medications, care at home, and nutritional therapy.


Psychotherapy has shown many successful results in treating bulimia and related eating disorders. People with bulimia can benefit from the following:

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However, psychotherapy often requires a combination of other treatments to achieve the most favourable outcomes.


In some cases, medical experts may prescribe specific medications that can relieve the symptoms of anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive behaviours related to bulimia nervosa and similar eating disorders. The necessity and type of medication are strictly prescribed and monitored by a professional healthcare practitioner.

Home Care

Bespoke care at home has also shown impressive results in treating the symptoms of bulimia nervosa and other related eating disorders. In many cases, when parents or family members are not able to provide 24-hour care to a person with bulimia, they find professional home carers to support and care for their loved ones.

Professional support at home provides monitoring, meal planning, safety, and emotional encouragement to people with bulimia and similar eating disorders.

Nutritional Therapy

People with bulimia nervosa or a similar eating disorder can have a range of benefits from nutritional therapy. This program is based on an individual holistic approach to nutrition and eating habits that can significantly improve people’s physical and mental health and overall functioning.

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Complications From Bulimia

When left untreated, bulimia nervosa can cause a number of serious health consequences to people’s health, including:

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Therefore, early intervention and proper care are of vital importance for people with bulimia nervosa or other eating disorders.

Can Bulimia Cause Cancer?

The most severe cases of bulimia are linked to an increased risk of developing oesophageal cancer. Self-induced vomiting is harmful to the throat and stomach as well.

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Long-Term Effects of Bulimia

All eating disorders may lead to long-term side effects on people’s physical and emotional well-being. The most common long-term effects of bulimia nervosa, if left untreated, include:

Fortunately, if people with bulimia seek help on time, they can successfully overcome this mental health challenge. The right support, at the right time and from the right people can make the journey to recovery less challenging and increase the chances for the best outcome possible.

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Living With Bulimia and Support

Living with bulimia can be challenging for the person and their family. The first obstacle people with eating disorder face are stigma and feelings of shame and guilt. Similarly, they often face boundaries and a lack of societal understanding, making the experience even more challenging.

Therefore, raising awareness about mental health and emotional well-being is vital for a healthy social environment and respecting people’s human rights.

In our years-long experience in supporting people with eating disorders, we have achieved a number of positive outcomes and created many success stories for people with complex care needs. Our person-centred and humanised approach provided by professional support workers has made people smile and happy again.

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How Leaf Complex Care Supports People Struggling With Bulimia

At Leaf Complex Care, we do things differently. Our professional support workers entail devotion, compassion and a personalised approach to our expert Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) plans.

We understand and embrace people’s differences and challenges and help people believe that with goodwill, everything is possible. Our team is dedicated to fostering a person’s strengths and skills to promote an independent and rewarding life in the community.

From 24-hour care at home to short-term and hourly shifts, we are here to help you with personal care, preparing meals and household chores, and instilling hope and a positive vision about life.

Contact us now if you or your loved one need tailored, complex care designed to your unique desire and preferences.

We provide CQC-regulated care in Bristol, SloughSomerset and the Midlands.