Health conditions

Bulimia nervosa

Bulimia nervosa is a common type of eating disorder and mental illness. It is characterised by eating large amounts of food at one time, which is often associated with a feeling of loss of control, and then purging, for example by vomiting and or using laxatives.

Between 1 and 3 per cent of young people experience bulimia nervosa.

What causes bulimia nervosa?

There is no single reason for an individual to develop bulimia nervosa.

Signs and symptoms

Bulimia nervosa is diagnosed when a person exhibits the following symptoms for at least 3 months:

  • frequent intake of large amounts of food in a single sitting
  • a sense of lack of control
  • action would be taken to get rid of the food, such as exercise or vomiting
  • sense of self worth would be overly influenced by weight and shape concerns.

Where to get help

  • Eating Disorders Program, Specialised Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, Princess Margaret Hospital.
  • See your doctor.
  • Visit a GP after hours.
  • Ring healthdirect Australia on 1800 022 222.

Acknowledgements
Child and Adolescent Health Service

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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