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Cause, symptoms and treatment of Bulimia nervosa
People who receive treatment for bulimia at early stages have comparatively a better chance of full recovery than those who start at later stages - though all patients recover but all symptoms may not go way.

BULIMIA IS a disorder in which a person (more common in females) binges on food and cultivates the habit of overeating. He/she even feels a loss on control and uses many methods like vomiting to prevent weight gain.


There is no definite known cause of bulimia, it results after two different factors namely chemical and environmental factors come together. The most common factors that contribute to bulimia are:

- low self esteem

- people suffering from this disease often feel depressed which results in binging.

- It sometimes occurs due to some stressful situations of life.

- It can occur in people who are sexually abused or have suffered any kind of physical illness.

- A difficult childhood with family problems and arguments also results in this disease.

- It is common in people with anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and personality disorder.

- Media and fashion industry can also be contributors to this disease.

- People with close relatives having bulimia are 4 times more susceptible than others.


The major symptoms of bulimia are binging and purging. Eating vast quantities of high calorie food without feeling hungry - they do this to deal with emotional problems. Purging is a response of binging, the most common methods of purging are using laxatives, excessive exercising, extreme dieting etc. Other signs of bulimia can be frequent changes in weight, spending a large amount of money on food, depression and anxiety, framing an unrealistic opinion about their body weight and shape, and feeling isolated.


The first step is to recognize the problem and having a desire to get well. Early treatment is important, because with time this behavior becomes more ingrained and difficult to change. People who are treated at early stages have more chances to recover fully than those who have started the treatment at later stages. The patient has to compromise and adopt to certain changes in his/her lifestyle and circumstances for being treated. They need several kinds of treatment, out of which the treatment which combines psychotherapy and antidepressants can be the most effective.

The treatment of bulimia requires a team approach, which includes your general physician, a psychiatrist, an experienced dietitian, you and your family. In psychotherapy you share your problems related to bulimia with a mental health provider. The types of psychotherapies which help in treating bulimia are cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy, dialectical behavioral therapy and family based treatments. Your mental health provider may use any one of it. Along with psychotherapy antidepressant drugs will be prescribed to you, which will help in reducing the symptoms of bulimia. The only anti-depressant which has been specifically approved by food and drug administration to treat bulimia is 'Fluoxetine (Prozac)', it is a selective serotonin uptake inhibitor.   

Almost all patients treated for bulimia do recover, but in some the symptoms don't go away entirely.

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