Bulimia nervosa is a life threatening mental disorder. Individuals with bulimia often experience intense shame or embarrassment about their bingeing and purging and may go to extreme lengths to hide their disorder. Individuals struggling with bulimia may go many years before their behaviors are noticed by others as they often in the “normal” weight range. Bulimia is commonly associated with depressive symptoms and also linked with self-harm and suicide.
The characteristics of bulimia include:
- Recurring episodes of food restriction followed by binge eating – which is the consumption of an unusually large amount of food within a relatively short period of time and is also associated with a feeling of being out of control over what and how much is eaten.
- Recurring behaviours that follow the binge in order to “purge” the body of food and “stop” weight gain. This can include excessive exercise, fasting or severe restriction, vomiting, and misuse of laxatives, diuretics, or enemas.
- Negative evaluation of their weight and shape and places high value on these aspects of themselves
- The restricting, bingeing, and purging cycle must occur at least once a week for three months