Bulimia Nervosa (BN) affects adolescents and adults of all ethnic/cultural backgrounds, as well as genders. BN is characterized by a pattern of regular binge eating, which is an experience of eating what most people would regard as a large amount of food, along with a feeling of “loss of control” while eating. Also, people with BN engage in a pattern of compensating for the excess amount of food eaten, either by causing themselves to vomit, misusing laxatives, misusing diuretics, exercising in a driven or excessive way, fasting in between binge eating, or otherwise finding ways to “get rid of” calories.
People with BN place a high importance on body weight or shape in determining their self-worth. Medical consequences of binge eating and purging can be significant and can affect heart function and gastrointestinal functioning, among other problems. People with BN tend to be average weight and their symptoms can often go on for years before seeking help for this problem.
The research on BN points clearly to the use of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) as the first-line treatment. Additionally, anti-depressant medication (e.g., fluoxetine) can be a helpful addition to therapy for some individuals. For adolescents, early research points toward CBT and Family-Based Treatment (i.e., Maudsley Method) as efficacious treatments for BN.