Causes and Effects of Bulimia

Regarded as a menacing type of eating disorder, bulimia nervosa in its worst form may end up taking the life of the patient. This eating discrepancy is typified by episodic bouts of bingeing or gorging followed by regurgitation that is brought upon by the patient through the use of emetics or diuretics. Bulimia nervosa often leads to other mental health problems including depression, anxiety or panic attacks where the individual usually has a very low self-worth and is wreaked by feelings of vulnerability or guilt.

More often than not, the presence of aforementioned psychological issues could make the individual susceptive to bulimia nervosa. A bulimic is too finicky about how she looks and is afraid of putting on weight which is what causes her to regurgitate or vomit to spew out the excess calories consumed through bingeing. The continued use of medications including diuretics and laxatives over a long period of time often leads to permanent damage of organs as well as makes the bulimic mentally unsound.

The person restricting calories, bingeing, purging, or excessively exercising may become anxious about getting caught or irritable when accusing a loved one of being unfairly suspicious or “controlling.” Lisa Ferentz LCSW-C, DAPA

Fortunately for the patients of bulimia, there are several treatment options presently available which can furnish 360˚ care that can help them fully recover so that they can go back to leading normal lives. Currently, in the US, there are about 24 million people besieged by the symptoms of different eating disorders. A good proportion of this populace happens to be young adults, especially female.

Risk factors and causes of bulimia nervosa

An individual will be more susceptible or prone to developing bulimia nervosa if someone in his or her immediate family has been diagnosed with the psychological disorder. Additionally, the individual runs the risk of being afflicted with bulimia if a paternal or maternal relative is already suffering from the disorder. The different causes behind bulimia can be grouped into distinct categories, namely ‘genetic’, ‘environmental’, and ‘behavioral’.


  • Family history-a family member like a brother or sister, a close relative including an aunt or a niece or someone from the past generations
  • Chemical imbalance in brain


  • A traumatic incident, including sexual abuse or rape, death of someone very close or separation of parents, and so on
  • Emotional exploitation
  • Tolerating ridicule and derision from an early age
  • PTSD arising out of a major mishap or accident
  • Stress resulting from trying to balance work and family life
  • Constantly exposed to an environment where chaos, disorder, and violence reigns

Cultural/Social-Modern-day societies and communities that put a premium on slim physiques and tend to favor men and women with low weights could also put individuals at risk of developing bulimia symptoms.

The truth is: weight is a lousy indication of health. Alexis Conason Psy.D.


  • Depression-People already suffering from a psychological condition like major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder or anxiety disorder usually indulge in binge-eating to cope with their negative thoughts.
  • Low self-worth
  • OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder)
  • Schizophrenia
  • Personality disorders


Bulimia nervosa, if left untreated, can burgeon into a grave disorder, and in its worst form, can endanger the very existence of the individual. A bulimic that hides his or her eating disorder, pretending to be perfectly normal, and does not opt for treatment is vulnerable from the following effects in the long run:-

  • Kidney failure
  • Rectal prolapse
  • Infertility
  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Prone to developing a mental health issue
  • Skeletal myopathy
  • Decayed teeth
  • Diseased gums
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Myocardial infarction
  • Alcoholism
  • Addiction to banned and psychotropic drugs
  • Job loss
  • Financial strife
  • Self-destructive behavior
  • Suicide attempts
  • Death

Most in the eating disorder professional community agree that to some extent, nature, and indeed nurture and environment are significant contributors and all together they provide a more well rounded opportunity to figuring out causation. — Judy Scheel Ph.D., L.C.S.W., CEDS


Opting for a multi-pronged treatment plan, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, group psychotherapy, nutritional counseling, and an effective medication plan can go a long way in enabling the bulimic to recover and rehabilitate.