What Is It?

Bulimia Nervosa is an eating disorder that is characterised by an individual binge eating frequently, followed by vomiting, taking laxatives, enemas or diuretics, fasting, excessively exercising or going on crash diets to avoid gaining weight. Individuals with bulimia get caught in a cycle of bingeing and purging, with a sense of lack of control, and value themselves on their weight and body shape.

What Causes It?

Bulimia has no single cause although it is linked to concerns about weight, body image, low self-esteem and complex emotional issues. Common emotional causes include stress, depression and low self-esteem, which in turn may stem from coping with unhappiness, gaining self-worth, dealing with trauma, life changing events, having a difficult childhood, family issues, sexual abuse and criticism.

Treatment Options

Therapy can help individuals with bulimia explore their feelings around poor body image, low self-esteem and shame, with Cognitive-Behavioural therapy (CBT) especially being recommended. The therapist works to help monitor eating habits, avoid triggers associated with bulimia, teach individuals how to cope with stress, establish regular eating habits and reduce cravings. Unhealthy thoughts and patterns of behaviour are addressed changing unhelpful beliefs e.g. the belief that your self-worth is based on weight. Emotional issues are also addressed as these can be underlying reasons contributing to the eating disorder. These issues may include low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, loneliness and isolation.

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