Bulimia nervosa is a psychiatric disorder focusing on food. Bulimics consume tremendous amounts of food – often thousands of calories – in a short space of time, subsequently purging it from their bodies by self-induced vomiting or laxative or diuretic abuse.
Bulimics may binge and purge 20 to 30 times a day. This is tremendously hard on the human body. Medical complications can include damage to the esophagus, stomach, intestines and teeth and gums. In extreme cases the kidneys and heart can sustain irreparable damage.
The emotional consequences of bulimia can be equally catastrophic. Unlike an anorexic, who is proud of the way she appears, a bulimic suffers shame and guilt over their behavior. Bulimics have also been known to steal food when they have insufficient funds to purchase the necessary huge volumes of food.
Professional care is realistically the only way to overcome bulimia. Typically commencing with outpatient therapy, it is not unusual for inpatient care, with a higher degree of monitoring, to be needed to achieve long term recovery.