Bulimia nervosa is a serious mental health illness where people try to control their weight through restriction of calories and food, combined with feelings of losing control over their eating and/or lives, which surfaces as binging and purging.

Bulimia is characterised by periods of severe dieting and followed by extreme binge eating and then self-induced vomiting or laxative usage, despite laxatives not reducing calorie absorption to an extent that would induce significant weight loss. As with other eating disorders, bulimia nervosa may be present in conjunction with other mental health issues such as: self-harming, depression, alcohol or drug misuse, anxiety, personality disorders and low self esteem. Unlike people with anorexia nervosa , people with bulimia nervosa are often in the healthy range of BMI, and is therefore more difficult to spot. People who have bulimia nervosa often have a distorted body image and think they are larger than they may be. People with bulimia nervosa often will be preoccupied with food, dieting, and have abnormal attitudes towards these subjects. Our team of professionals are experts in managing bulimia nervosa and its associated behaviours, helping the individuals achieve healthy positive behaviours through multidisciplinary, holistic interventions.

What causes Bulimia nervosa?

Bulimia is often caused by complex emotions, thoughts, and/or fears relating to being fat. Often people with bulimia tend to use food and eating behaviours as a way of coping with these intense emotions or distress in their lives, such as emotional turmoil or changes in their life that they have no control over. Common emotional causes of bulimia include low self esteem, depression, stress and/or an emotional trauma such as a death of a loved one or divorce. Bulimia also occurs in people who have been sexually abused and/or had a difficult childhood with abuse and/or lived in a dysfunctional family with lots of arguments and stress.

How do I know if myself or a loved one has Bulimia nervosa?

Bulimia can sometimes we difficult to spot due to their body weight and height often being within the healthy BMI range. It is rare for a child or adult to get bulimia (although not impossible) and it is common to develop in adults from anorexia nervosa. Here are some signs that an individual may be living with bulimia:

  • Extreme changes in eating pattern such as, eating very small amounts then very large amounts
  • Mood swings
  • Binging (eating large amounts of food in short space of time)
  • Purging (vomiting, laxatives, excessive exercise)
  • Large amounts of laxatives or laxative packaging around the house or in bins
  • Diuretic usage
  • Anxiety, depression or tense behaviour
  • Distorted behaviour or thoughts with food, body image or weight
  • Feelings of loss of control, guilt or shame
  • Going to the bathroom straight after meals or disappearing
  • Marks/calluses on the backs of hands from making themselves sick
  • Vomit marks in toilet, shower or bins
  • Stopping of periods
  • Yoyo weight loss and gain
  • Stomach pain, constipation or bloating
  • Staining or damage to teeth from vomiting
  • Secretive behaviour and lying about what they've eaten and/or what they have been doing

The sooner the person with bulimia is diagnosed, the quicker they can be treated by our team of experienced mental health nurses, psychologists and dietitians. The quicker the person receives treatment the higher the their likelihood of recovery is.

If you would like to make an appointment, please contact us.

What are the long term effects of Bulimia nervosa?

As with all eating disorders, bulimia nervosa can cause severe malnutrition long-term, due to restriction of food and calories. However, bulimia also causes chronic physical problems associated with excessive vomiting and laxative usage:

  • Loss of periods (amenorrhea)
  • Infertility in both females and males
  • Dental issues from excessive vomiting
  • Severe dehydration from starvation, laxative and diuretic usage
  • Hair loss and poor skin condition from malnutrition
  • Seizures
  • Swollen glands from frequent vomiting and a bloated face
  • Chemical and electrolyte imbalance from persistent vomiting and laxative usage
  • Chronic heart problems from electrolyte imbalances
  • Death from starvation, electrolyte disturbances or dehydration

Our mental health nurse assesses the person with bulimia and coordinates the treatment program, that is right for the individual. Our psychologists will help the person with bulimia break the negative cycle of binging and purging and help develop a healthier relationship with food. Additionally, our psychologists will help address the root cause of the bulimia nervosa and teach you techniques in handling any unwanted emotions you may be having. Our dietitian will help optimise the individual's diet and address any nutritional issues that may be present, encouraging weight gain if required.

To see how our team can help you, contact us.

How is Bulimia nervosa treated?


Mental health nurse reviews

Clinical Psychology Therapy Sessions

Dietetic reviews

Group therapy

Family therapy

Bulimia nervosa can be treated and cured, especially if it is caught and diagnosed early. As bulimia is usually caused by an emotional or stress trigger, psychological therapy is the most common and effective treatment. Our mental health nurse and psychologist can help talk with your loved and identify the emotional and food related triggers for the binge/purge behaviours to establish a more positive behaviour routine. Our dietitian will treat the nutritional deficiency and help with a healthy weight gain (if required).

If you’d like to know more about our treatment programmes, please contact us.

How can The Bridge help with Bulimia nervosa?

It is very hard for people with eating disorders to get better by themselves, sometimes they haven't even admitted to themselves that they have a problem yet. Therefore, if someone is showing these signs, it's important to get help. Our outpatient clinic provides a relaxed and positive atmosphere for the treatment of people with bulimia nervosa. Often people with bulimia are not able to get adequate NHS treatment due to their BMI not being low enough for inpatient admission. At The Bridge, we can provide immediate access to effective treatment for bulimia, this includes a mental health nurse assessment and regular reviews, dietetic therapy and psychological treatments to help aid recovery in an holistic manner.

To find out more about how we can help please contact us.


“The support I received throughout every stage of my treatment was incredible. I always had someone on hand to help.”Marta

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