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Bulimia: What Is It?

Woman hides face in hands and measuring tape as she wonders, "What is Bulimia?"

What is bulimia? Bulimia is an incredibly common eating disorder that can be life-threatening when left untreated. Often, when somebody begins experiencing symptoms of bulimia nervosa, they might not even know it until it’s too late. To learn more about what bulimia is, call Virtue Recovery Las Vegas – Eating Disorders at 866.984.3819 today. Our bulimia nervosa treatment can help.

What Is Bulimia Nervosa?

What is bulimia nervosa? Bulimia nervosa, commonly referred to as bulimia, is an eating disorder characterized by a cycle of binge eating followed by compensatory behaviors to counteract the effects of overeating. Individuals with bulimia typically experience episodes of consuming large amounts of food in a relatively short period, often feeling a loss of control during these episodes. This is followed by efforts to “purge” or eliminate the calories consumed, which may involve methods such as self-induced vomiting, excessive exercise, laxative or diuretic use, and fasting.

Bulimia can have serious physical, emotional, and psychological consequences. It’s associated with a range of health risks, including:

  • Electrolyte imbalances
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Dental issues (due to stomach acid exposure during purging)
  • Cardiovascular complications

Additionally, the intense preoccupation with body image, weight, and food can lead to significant emotional distress and a negative impact on overall quality of life.

What Is Bulimia Nervosa Characterized By?

Bulimia nervosa is characterized by uncontrollable eating habits combined with purging in order to get rid of “shameful” calories.

Bulimia signs and symptoms may look like:

  • Being obsessed with body shape or weight
  • Living in fear of gaining weight
  • Repeatedly eating abnormally large amounts of food in one sitting
  • Feeling uncontrollable while eating
  • Forcing yourself to vomit or exercising too much to keep from gaining weight after bingeing
  • Using laxatives, diuretics, or enemas after eating
  • Fasting, restricting calories, or avoiding certain foods

Each person is different and signs and symptoms can differ slightly from person to person.

What Is Bulimia Treatment?

Treatment for bulimia generally involves a multidisciplinary approach that addresses both the physical and psychological aspects of the disorder. Here are some common components of bulimia treatment:


Psychotherapy, particularly cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), is a cornerstone of bulimia treatment. CBT helps individuals identify and change unhealthy thought patterns and behaviors related to food, body image, and self-esteem. It also teaches coping strategies and relapse prevention techniques.

Nutritional Counseling

Working with a registered dietitian or nutritionist helps individuals establish a healthier relationship with food. They provide education about balanced eating, meal planning, and strategies to normalize eating patterns.

Medical Monitoring

Regular medical check-ups are important to monitor and manage any physical health complications resulting from bulimia, such as electrolyte imbalances, heart problems, and gastrointestinal issues.


We sometimes prescribe medication alongside psychotherapy to help manage underlying mood or anxiety disorders that often coexist with bulimia. Antidepressants are commonly used to address these issues.

Group Therapy

Group therapy sessions provide a supportive environment where individuals can share their experiences, gain insights from others, and receive encouragement from peers who are also working toward recovery.

Mindfulness and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

These approaches help individuals manage emotions, develop healthy coping skills, and reduce impulsive behaviors. They can be beneficial for individuals struggling with emotional regulation.

Self-Help and Support Groups

Participating in self-help resources and support groups, either in person or online, can offer additional encouragement, validation, and a sense of community.

Long-Term Aftercare

As with many eating disorders, aftercare is crucial to prevent relapse. Continuing therapy and regular check-ins with medical and mental health professionals can provide ongoing support in the years following treatment.

Call Virtue Recovery Las Vegas – Eating Disorders Today

It’s important to note that the specifics of treatment can vary based on individual needs, the severity of the disorder, and other factors. Seeking help early and receiving a comprehensive treatment plan is essential for a successful recovery from bulimia nervosa. Contact Virtue Recovery Las Vegas – Eating Disorders today at 866.984.3819 to discuss the options available to you.

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Virtue Recovery Las Vegas Eating Disorders