What is Bulimia Nervosa?

In bulimia nervosa, the individual binge eats and then tries to compensate for this by restricting his or her food intake, or using other compensatory behaviours such as vomiting, laxative misuse or excessive exercise.

How common is bulimia?

Bulimia nervosa is more common than anorexia nervosa and often begins slightly later in life from late teens, to twenties and can occur at an older age. Prevalence rates in young women vary between 0.5 per cent and 2 per cent but the prevalence of atypical forms may be considerably higher.

How is bulimia treated?

Unlike people who have anorexia, who often feel ambivalent or resistant to treatment, people with bulimia usually want to change and overcome their eating disorder. The difficulty is usually around coming forward to seek treatment because there is normally a deep-seating sense of shame about their food behaviour. However on the more positive side, it is clear that bulimia responds very well to treatment once a diagnosis is made. Treatment is almost always undertaken on an outpatient basis; admission is normally only required when other are other very serious complications involved.

Outpatient treatment involves going to see a specialist once or twice a week for therapy sessions lasting one hour or ninety minutes. The specialist may be a consultant psychiatrist or a psychologist.

Cognitive behavioural therapy has been proven to be very effective in the treatment of eating disorders and there is form of CBT which has been specifically developed for the treatment of eating disorders, called CBT-E.