What are the causes of Bulimia?

Like all eating disorders, bulimia develops when an individual is unable to cope with difficult feelings and expresses this struggle through their behaviour towards food, becoming trapped in a cycle of bingeing and purging. The underlying causes of bulimia can be some of the following but will vary for every individual:

  • Childhood trauma and abuse
  • Family difficulties
  • Stressful life events
  • Personality factors
  • Low self esteem

Research shows that bulimia can be linked to other psychological problems, such as anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder.

Bulimia typically develops during teens and early adulthood and for some people, can be understood as a response to life changes, such as moving away from home and going to university. The cycle of bingeing and purging expresses the underlying distress, followed by purging as a disordered attempt to regain control.

More positively, as we describe here, once diagnosed, it is a condition which tends to respond well to treatment.