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Nervous bulimia: causes, symptoms and treatment

Nervous bulimia: causes, symptoms and treatment


As part of the group of diseases considered eating disorders, nervous bulimia can affect people of any age or gender. Since it is sometimes not noticeable that someone is dealing with this type of eating disorder, it is important that you recognize the causes and, above all, the symptoms that may indicate a health problem.

In this article, VillaRamadas seeks to clarify what type of eating disorder nervous bulimia is and how it can be treated. There is no cure, but a recovery process for the resumption of a more balanced life.

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What is Nervous Bulimia?

As an eating disorder, bulimia nervosa has, like other disorders, a psychological origin. This type of eating disorder is characterized by recurrent episodes of binge eating, but it is important to distinguish it from binge eating.

In some ways linked, nervous bulimia can arise as an isolated disorder or as a consequence of binge eating itself. The person who suffers from nervous bulimia feels total lack of control over the act of eating, subsequently leading to emotional distress.

Nervous Bulimia
Nervous bulimia can arise at any age and in any socio-economic context. It is important to be aware of warning signs © Karolina Grabowska/Pexels

Thus, the condition of nervous bulimia applies when the person resorts to compensatory strategies to avoid gaining body weight after compulsive food intake. The most common form of this disease is through the purgative type, in which patients resort to induced vomiting or laxative medication. But less visible, but just as dangerous, is the non-purging method, which can involve fasting and intense physical exercise.

One of the aspects that distinguishes individuals with nervous bulimia from those with anorexia nervosa (compulsive/purging eating type) is that the former (with bulimia nervosa) manage to keep their weight at a normal value or even a little above the normal value. normal value.

Causes for the development of nervous bulimia

Like any other eating disorder, nervous bulimia is linked to an impaired state of mind. With psychological causes, this type of disorder arises due to low self-esteem and difficulty in valuing body image (similar to nervous anorexia, for example).

Eating Disorder
The pressure of society for an ideal weight can be one of the causes for the development of nervous bulimia © Unsplash

However, it cannot be said that there is only one cause, since several factors are involved. They stand out among four groups:

  • Genetics – relationship to previous family history of eating disorders, or history of mental illness/substance use and predisposition to impulsivity. Childhood overweight and obesity can also contribute to the development of bulimia nervosa;
  • Environmental – What is seen as the “ideal body” by society contributes to increasing concerns about the body. In turn, victims of sexual abuse are also at greater risk;
  • Social – peer pressure to achieve a certain ‘body ideal’;
  • Psychological – anxiety disorders, depression, substance use, low self-esteem and stress.

Symptoms of Nervous Bulimia

If you think that someone close to you may be developing nervous bulimia, you should be aware of a set of behaviors and attitudes, namely:

  • Recurrent episodes of binge eating during so-called ‘diet deviations’;
  • Inappropriate behaviors to compensate for binge eating:
    • To vomit
    • Exaggerated exercise to burn calories
    • Use of laxatives and dietary supplements;
  • Excessive concern about body image and weight;
  • Implementation of extremely strict diets (which are not followed in any anxiety episode);
  • Avoid foods considered more caloric or even restrict a large part of them;
  • Refusal to eat for long periods of time;
Eating Disorder
© Diana Polekhina/Unsplash
  • Physical signs due to frequent vomiting: sore throat, dental erosion or yellow and sensitive teeth, dry and cracked lips, red and shiny eyes;
  • Gastroesophageal reflex and other intestinal problems, such as irritation;
  • Frequent trips to the bathroom immediately after each meal;
  • Frequent weight changes;
  • Embarrassment in eating or discomfort in eating together in groups.

It is important that you realize that symptoms can vary from person to person, and that it is not mandatory for all to be visible. Furthermore, symptoms are just signs that should be evaluated by a specialized multidisciplinary team. Frequency of symptoms is what may also dictate the correct diagnosis of the eating disorder.

Treatment of Nervous Bulimia

Nervous bulimia can be treated, but it must be viewed as a lifelong illness. Many people get better, but relapses are also common when there is no desire to improve or lack of support in the closest circle. It’s important that you know how to help someone with an eating disorder, but don’t forget that professional help is essential.

Support System
© Rosie Sun/Unsplash

In VillaRamadas we have a multidisciplinary team specialized in the treatment of eating disorders. If you are looking for a treatment, talk to us so that we can introduce you to our methods. Don’t postpone the chance to change your life, or help those in need.


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