Symptoms of bulimia nervosa

Bulimia is a condition which can affect anybody at any age and within any profession, however it is more common in dancers, gymnasts and models.

Within modern society, the pursuit for beauty, thinness and moreover, fitting in with the crowd, can be overpowering, and bulimia is sometimes seen as a way of dealing with this pressure. Look out for an obsession with looking a certain way and striving for a certain body shape, for example buying particular beauty magazines, an increase in exercising or visiting ‘pro-ana’ or ‘pro-mia’ websites.

It is common for those who are overweight or obese to suffer from bulimia specifically as a way to lose weight, so look out for binge eating followed by self-induced vomiting as a way of dealing with the guilt associated with binge eating.

One of the first things to spot would be a change in behaviour and attitude towards others, for example becoming more short tempered, emotional or undergoing a drastic reduction in confidence.

Signs and symptoms of bulimia

Not everyone will show the same symptoms, but the most common symptoms of bulimia include:

  • Binge eating followed by making yourself sick or taking laxatives as a way of dealing with the guilt
  • An obsession with food and calories as a way of controlling your intake
  • Going to the toilet straight after meals to make yourself sick
  • An overwhelming feeling of guilt after binge eating which then adds to the desire to self-induce vomiting
  • Misuse of drugs and alcohol as a way of dealing with underlying issues, for example depression and anxiety
  • Problems with vital internal organs due to lack of essential minerals, vitamins and other crucial nutrients

Close family or friends may not notice these symptoms mainly because you may not dramatically lose weight. Other side effects of bulimia due to continuous binge eating, vomiting and taking laxatives can include:

  • Fainting
  • Choking
  • A ruptured stomach
  • Bowel problems from laxative abuse
  • Tooth enamel wearing away
  • A painful throat and damaged vocal chords

Emotional symptoms of bulimia nervosa

Those who suffer from bulimia may also experience emotional symptoms including:

  • Anger
  • Tiredness
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Frustration
  • Panic
  • Lack of body confidence

7 tips on dealing with the initial stages of bulimia

  1. Understand and admit that you have a problem – this is a crucial first step to beating the condition
  2. Accept that the behaviours that you’re showing are dangerous, for example binge eating followed by self induced vomiting. Understand and accept that these behaviours will need to change in order to recover
  3. Accept help from family, friends and professionals who only want the best for you
  4. Surround yourself with positive influences and remove any negativity as well as any temptations to relapse, such as large amounts of unhealthy food
  5. Make a step-by-step plan to conquering your eating disorder with a health professional
  6. Be honest with yourself and with family and friends about your condition and how you want to change
  7. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself – bulimia is often a way of seizing control when there is too much stress or pressure, for example during exams or within work

If you would like further information about the treatments available for Bulimia nervosa, then please call: 0845 277 4679.