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Bulimia Nervosa - Definition, Symptoms & Causes

Bulimia nervosa is one of the eating disorders. Bulimia nervosa is characterised by binge eating compensated for by distorted weight loss behaviours. Bulimia nervosa involves an excessive concern with body shape and weight. People who suffer with bulimia nervosa are typically of a weight that is age and height appropriate. Being slightly overweight or underweight is less common. Being obese is uncommon. Bulimia nervosa usually develops in males and females during adolescence or early adulthood.

Symptoms of Bulimia Nervosa

The main symptom of Bulimia nervosa is binge eating. Binge eating involves periods of time spent rapidly eating more than others normally would. Binge eating normally focuses on the eating of sweet high calorie foods. Other symptoms of bulimia nervosa include concealment of binge eating, loss of control, secrecy, or shame. To compensate for weight gain resulting from binge eating, weight loss behaviours are used, such as fasting, self induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives, or excessive exercise.

Causes of Bulimia Nervosa

A person with bulimia nervosa may excessively allow their self evaluation to be based on their body shape and weight. Bulimia nervosa may be related to anxiety, or first degree relatives with bulimia nervosa, mood disorders or substance abuse or dependency. Bulimia nervosa may also be related to depression, dieting, alcohol abuse, cultural factors, drug abuse, low self esteem, weight issues in the family, Personality Disorders (PD) particularly Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), or stress.

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Updated 06 July 2011