Bulimia nervosa

This is characterised by repeated episodes of eating large quantities of food in a short time (binging), generally secretly, followed by compensatory behaviour such a provoking vomiting, abuse of laxatives, diuretics, enemas and slimming products, drastic fasting, accompanied or not by excessive physical exercise.

People with this disorder, normally women, are usually aware that their eating pattern is not normal and that it has got out of control, causing them much distress and subsequently feelings of guilt, self-contempt, shame and depression. It is usually a disorder that easily passes unnoticed, and is suffered with serious feelings of shame and guilt.

As with anorexics, there is always a fear of getting fat and concern for body image, resulting in great anxiety. There is a great fear of being unable to stop eating and often a difficulty with impulse control, which is why there can also be an associated abuse of alcohol, tobacco, and sexual relations, etc.

They are usually insecure people, dissatisfied with themselves, and obsessed with weight and food.

Unlike anorexics, they may have a healthy appearance, and normal, low or excess weight. It usually commences at a later age than anorexia.

It shares some external signs with anorexia nervosa:

  • Enlargement of the salivary glands.
  • Inflammation of the gums.
  • Erosion of the inner face of the teeth, due to repeated provoked vomiting.
  • Frequent gastrointestinal problems, heartburn, diarrhoea, bleeding from the rectum.
  • Callouses on the backs of the fingers caused by repeated provocation of vomiting.
  • Small haemorrhages in and around the eyes caused by the force of retching during vomiting.
  • Going to the toilet to vomit immediately after eating.
  • Doing excessive physical exercise.
  • Cardiac arrhythmias.
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