Bulimia nervosa, or simply bulimia, is an eating disorder characterized by purging following a binge eating episode. During binge eating, the individual eats more than what an average person would eat in the same amount of time under the same circumstances. They feel a lack of control over eating, often unable to stop once started and may enter into a trance while eating. After eating, they use inappropriate behaviors to compensate for overeating. This may include vomiting, laxative use, diuretic use, excessive exercising, or other ways of purging. Binging and purging cycles happen at least once a week for three months or more. Self-evaluation is unduly influenced by body weight and shape. None of these symptoms occur during periods of anorexia nervosa. About 1.1%-4.6% of females and 0.1%-0.5% of males will have bulimia. Treatment consists primarily of psychotherapy and medications to treat underlying conditions. Psychotherapy aims to interrupt the binge/purge cycle, address negative thought about self and body image, and resolve emotional issues related to the disorder. Bulimia frequently occurs with other mental illnesses, such as depression and alcohol abuse.
Bulimia, like anorexia, takes over the individual’s life. Life becomes about staying thin, taking steps to lose weight, and trying to hid how much food you consume. Some people will spend upwards of three hours a day exercising. Health problems related to the eating disorder can get in the way of school work. But generally bulimia doesn’t interfere with the individuals ability to complete school work, study, get to class, or keep appointments. Bulimia is not, however, a sustainable habit. Severe health complications arise, other mental illnesses can develop, and even death can occur. Specifically, bulimia can cause dehydration, kidney failure, heart problems, severe tooth decay and gum disease, digestive problems, alcohol or drug use, and possibly suicide. Balanced living is a large part of the college life, and bulimia disrupts that. Treatment is the best option for restoring balance and recovering. Sometimes campus psychiatry and support services can be enough. Sometimes taking a semester off and going to a recovery facility may be more effective. It depends on the individual, but recovery is always possible.