The Effects Of Bulimia Nervosa In Teens – Therapists Are Worried For The Girls


In a world where there are beauty standards, a lot of teens are pressured into thinking on that’s how they are supposed to look, act, and portray themselves. The beauty industry has set an impossible situation for teens and young adults that results in both physical and mental health problems. This leave therapists worried about these girls and you should too. In this article, we will be talking about the effects of bulimia nervosa to teens and why this illness is on the rise.

Bulimia nervosa afflicts approximately 4% of women and 0.5% of men in the US. Nearly 4% of those suffering from bulimia will die from the disease and nearly all struggling with the illness experience serious medical and/ or emotional effects. — Alexis Conason Psy.D.

Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia nervosa, or commonly known as bulimia, is the act of uncontrollable eating followed by purging or vomiting. This is also done with excessive use or misuse of laxatives and other medications that can help a person lose or maintain weight. A person with bulimia binges food. It means she overeats, twice as much food usually consumed and repeatedly does this two to three times a week for more than three months.

The Causes Of Bulimia

The leading cause of bulimia is still unknown, but there are factors to consider when a person has it. The social attitude and the pressure to look a certain way can be one of the reasons for this to happen. Also, there may be family problems that can trigger bulimia and other issues about their body weight and shape.


People who are purging tend to go to the bathroom immediately after eating, and use breath mints and bathroom spray to cover the odor of vomit. They get scarring on the finger they bite down on to do self-imposed vomiting and tend to develop dental problems as well. — Lisa Ferentz LCSW-C, DAPA

People Who Suffer From Bulimia

Most of the time, females in their adolescent stage that are in a high socioeconomic group are the ones to develop bulimia. Most of the recorded cases of bulimia are known to be in a family where there is a history of mental health problems, eating disorders, and physical illnesses. Other than bulimia, teens who are suffering from it also have mood disorders and anxiety.

Types Of Bulimia

We often think that bulimia is one type of eating disorder, but there are two different types of bulimia.

  • Purging – this type of bulimia displays induced vomiting or the misuse of laxatives, diuretics, and other medications aiding in weight loss or indigestion.
  • Non-Purging – this type of bulimia makes a person excessively exercise or to too perform fasting to burn all the unwanted calories in their body to an extent where they look unhealthy.

Symptoms Of Bulimia

If you think you or anybody close to you are developing bulimia, you can look at these symptoms and see if they are displaying signs. However, it is different for everyone.

  • A person seeing herself as overweight but has a healthy weight or even underweight.
  • Have episodes of binge eating, usually in secret and have a fear of not being able to stop eating.
  • Self-induced vomiting that is usually done in secret
  • Excessive exercising or fasting
  • Displaying abnormal eating habits
  • Uses laxatives and other weight loss medications inappropriately
  • Irregular menstruation
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Not satisfied with the way they look, their weight, and their body shape.
  • Is always preoccupied with food, body, and weight
  • Have scars on the back of their fingers due to self-induced vomiting.
  • Unusual behaviors such as overachieving

As you can see, these symptoms are often similar to signs of other mental health problems. Make sure always to consult a doctor.


Diagnosis Of Bulimia

Parents, teachers, and other school personnel can help identify if a child is showing signs of having bulimia. They may consult the school’s psychologist to conduct counseling to the child and see if they require medical attention. They will need to know the detailed medical history of the child to see if there are other mental health issues in the family. Treatment can be conducted once it is confirmed so that future problem can be prevented.

Denying the problem and thereby denying its effects are not uncommon. Patients sometimes lie also about the severity of their condition, further hampering the selection of appropriate treatment options. — Judy Scheel Ph.D., L.C.S.W., CEDS


Treating an adolescent with bulimia will be determined by your healthcare provider. They will need to know the following information.

  • Age, medical history and overall health
  • The symptoms of the adolescent
  • Tolerance to specific medications and treatments
  • Your expectations
  • Your opinions and views about the treatment

In adolescents, bulimia is often treated with individual therapy, family therapy, behavioral therapy, and rehabilitation. Treatments are always based on how the person responds to it and can be changed over time to see which one shows the best results. Parents, on the other hand, need to be supportive throughout this journey.


There is still no prevention techniques known today, but the best way is through intervention and early diagnosis. If you see early signs of bulimia with your adolescent, it is better to talk to them. First, tell your teen how much you love her. Be sympathetic, and ask your teen if there is a problem so you can get the help they need as soon as possible.  With this, you can help your child be more in control of his life so that she could live normally. Worrying about their body negatively and how the world sees them on that aspect must be erased from their minds.