Bulimia nervosa – causes and treatment

What is bulimia nervosa?

Bulimia nervosa, known simply as “bulimia”, is a common eating disorder. It involves binge eating followed by vomiting, usually due to the feeling of guilt. Bulimia nervosa can cause a number of other medical conditions such as kidney and heart disease, osteoporosis, gum disease, and it can even lead to death.

Causes of bulimia nervosa

There is no precisely defined cause of bulimia nervosa, but it is considered to be caused by a combination of several factors. What can cause this disorder is usually the combination of genetic factors, learned family and society behaviors, and social values such as admiring thinness. Bulimia nervosa can also be caused by extremely stressful life events as well as by some personal traits such as extreme perfectionism.

Risk groups

The group most commonly hit by bulimia nervosa is made of young women in high school or college. It is most commonly in this period when women are extremely worried about their physical appearance, and they increase the risk of developing eating disorders such as bulimia nervosa.

Seeking medical help

Bulimia nervosa is a serious condition itself, and in addition it can lead to a series of other serious health conditions. People suffering from bulimia nervosa are also in higher risk of committing suicide, and all this is enough reason to seek medical help.

Physical treatment

Since bulimia is a disorder caused by mental and psychological factors, sometimes a doctor can prescribe antidepressants to the person suffering from this condition. Antidepressants help reduce the cycles of binge eating and purging, and they also relieve the symptoms of depression which usually come hand in hand with eating disorders.

Psychological treatment

Treatment with medicine is the most efficient when combined with psychological counseling. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) have been proven to be the most efficient it treating patients who suffer from bulimia.

Home treatment

In addition to treatment in medical conditions, it is also important to create a safe and encouraging environment in the patient’s home. This means that the family and friends should be supportive and helpful, but also that the patient himself should do everything to persist in the healing process.


It is important to set goals, and trying to reach them will help the patient through the healing process. The bar should not be set too high, but the main goal is simply to feel better every day. Nobody should blame oneself for the condition, and they should focus their attention on self-encouragement and the process of getting better.

Family support

Family and friends should, above all, not judge the patient. Instead, they should get informed about bulimia nervosa and try to understand the patient. They should stay supportive and encourage the patient to reach for the goals and to remain persistent in order to heal. They should hear about the patient’s feelings and thoughts and encourage him o her to talk about it. Show the patient that there is nothing to be ashamed of and that he or she is the not the one to blame.