Bulimia nervosa: Overview

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Learn about the main features and causes of bulimia nervosa.

Key points

  • Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder where a person eats a larger amount of food than most people would eat over a short time, once a week or more for at least three months.
  • Binge eating involves eating a large amount of food in an uncontrolled way in a short period of time. It is often followed by feelings of guilt and shame.
  • Purging can include induced vomiting, use of laxatives or other pills or, sometimes, periods of starvation or too much exercise.
  • Bulimia nervosa arises from a mix of social factors, stressful life events and genetics. It usually begins between the ages of 14 and 22 and often occurs with a mental health condition such as depression or a substance use disorder.
Last updated: September 12th 2023