Bulimia, also called bulimia nervosa, is a psychological eating disorder which mainly hits girls between the ages of 15 to 25. Research indicate that during their first year of college, 4.5 to 18 percent of women and 0.4 percent of men have a history of bulimia.
Bulimia is characterized by episodes of binge eating followed by purging. The desire for food and candy is very strong and at the same time the person try to reduce weight. This causes a strong conflict between the desire to eat and the desire to reduce weight.
To cope with the conflict they use inappropriate methods of weight control including vomiting, fasting, enemas, excessive use of laxatives and diuretics, or compulsive exercising. A period of binge eating produces strong feelings of guilt.
For a person with bulimia, self-confidence is strongly dependent on the shape and weight of the body. There are similarities between anorexia and bulimia regarding the fear of becoming fat and the desire to reduce weight. It’s not unusual that anorexia often turns into bulimia. Just about half of those with anorexia will have bulimia nervosa.
Studies have shown that disorders in family relations can be one of the factors that contributes to bulimia. Difficult periods of time or changes like puberty, death in the family or other family crisis can cause bulimia nervosa. The teenager feels she can’t control her world, but can control her weight. Considering many of those with bulimia are perfectionists, they carry the weight control to the extreme.
Bulimia nervosa can cause severe medical complications. There is a risk for damages that will become permanent. These can include damages to the heart, lungs and other major organs. It is yet unknown if bulimia can damage the brain in any way. If untreated, bulimia can lead to death.