Bulimia nervosa

Bulimia, or bulimia nervosa, is a condition characterised by an individual’s obsession with weight and body shape and a general fear of being perceived as “fat”. However, bulimia is much more than a concern about gaining weight; beyond the surface, bulimia is a toxic mental health disorder which invokes a multitude of self-criticism and body distortions, thereby making those suffering feel entrapped in an addictive relationship with food. We believe bulimia nervosa shouldn’t be perceived as anything less than a severe mental illness with huge negative health consequences. If you are worried that you or someone you care about has bulimia, take comfort that bulimia rehab is competent at treating this illness, and we can help you through the recovery journey.

What is bulimia?

Characterised by excessive overeating or bingeing periods, bulimia involves compensatory behaviour, such as forced vomiting or purging to prevent weight gain. Many people with bulimia may consider eating the best solution for dealing with difficult feelings. But, in the next moment, food will seem like the origin of all their sorrow and life problems – hence the vicious cycle of the disease. Unlike those with anorexia (who are noticeably underweight), bulimic individuals are usually a healthy weight or overweight. However, the fact that the symptoms aren’t obvious can make those with bulimia suffer in silence.

What are the signs of bulimia?

It is vital that you can identify the symptoms of bulimia as soon as possible so that you can get treatment before irreparable damage is done. Here’s what to look out for:

Physical symptoms of bulimia…

  • Fatigue
  • Muscle cramps
  • Dry skin
  • Bloating
  • Menstrual irregularities (in females)
  • Dehydration
  • Abnormal bowel function
  • Fainting
  • Seizure
  • Irregular heartbeat

Behavioural symptoms of bulimia…

  • Purging behaviours after bingeing such as vomiting, excessive exercise, abusing laxatives, diuretics
  • Loss of control during episodes of bingeing
  • Repeated binge-eating episodes
  • Secrecy about purging
  • Hoarding food
  • Secrecy about bingeing (hiding food packets etc.)
  • Disappearing soon after eating (to purge)
  • Fixation on body image and comparing body shapes and sizes of other

Psychological and emotional symptoms of bulimia…

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Lack of concentration
  • Social withdrawal
  • Low self-esteem
  • Tense around mealtimes
  • Feelings of shame and guilt after eating or bingeing


What causes bulimia nervosa?

The primary cause of bulimia isn’t always easy to determine. Some people are genetically predisposed to developing bulimia, while others acquire theirs due to psychological or emotional causes.

Psychological and emotional causes that can contribute to the development of bulimia include:

  • Physical perfectionism
  • Low self-esteem
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Family conflict
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

What are the long-term effects of bulimia?

If left untreated, bulimia can bring about several severe health problems. First, people with bulimia will put their mental health through turmoil which can exacerbate depression and anxiety and may even lead to substance abuse as an escape. This can negatively seep into other aspects of their lives, such as school, work, and social relationships. Moreover, the physical effects of the binge and purge cycle can wreak havoc on the digestive system, which can lead to electrolyte and chemical imbalances in the body, resulting in organ damage.

Due to the repetitive cycle of purging and vomiting, those with bulimia are likely to experience tooth decay, esophageal tears and stomach ruptures. Furthermore, if laxative abuse is involved, people are likely to also experience bowel problems in the long term.

How do we treat bulimia?

There is no one-size-fits-all cure for bulimia nervosa. It takes work and commitment from both the patient and the treatment provider. To ensure each client gets the best possible treatment for bulimia, we evaluate and use the results to personalise treatment and offer a wide-range of therapies so you can decide which works best for your recovery journey.

Our sister centre in Banbury, Oxfordshire, can be of assistance if you have a loved one between the ages of 16 and 18 suffering from bulimia nervosa. Treating bulimia isn’t the same for adults and teenagers, primarily because of the developmental problems that may occur in younger individuals. However, our sister centre has the necessary resources and expertise to help your teenager retake control of their life, recover from an eating disorder and stay healthy long term.

Contact us today so we can help arrange the admission of your loved one.

Bulimia post-treatment support

To guarantee that the positive effects of your treatment are not short-lived, we provide follow-up care and continued support. After you are discharged from our facility, you can take advantage of this service to help you stay focused on living a healthy lifestyle and preventing relapse. Our support system will also help you overcome any stressors or triggers that may cause you to become bulimic again.


Take comfort in knowing you can recover from bulimia

UKAT has a team of professional staff who understand the devastating effects of bulimia. We hope to provide you and your loved ones with information and support to get you through these difficult times. Moreover, we want to instil hope and assure you that bulimia is treatable; people recover and live a good quality of life. There is no reason why you can’t either. So, if you are struggling with bulimia or know someone who is, reach out to us today, and one of our support team will go through any questions or concerns you have.

Frequently asked questions

Who is more likely to develop bulimia?
Bulimia usually present itself in adolescent years or early adulthood, with studies showing that young women up to the age of twenty are particularly at risk of developing the disorder. However, it is important to remember that nobody is immune from bulimia, and people of all ages, genders and backgrounds can fall victim to this disorder.`
Is it possible to have bulimia alongside other eating disorders?
Yes, being diagnosed with more than one type of eating disorder is possible; research has shown that 8% of people with bulimia may cross over into Anorexia Nervosa, while 9% of bulimics can also develop binge eating disorder.
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Who am I contacting?

Calls and contact requests are answered by admissions at

UK Addiction Treatment Group.

We look forward to helping you take your first step.

0203 553 9263