Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service

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Bulimia

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Like anorexia, bulimia is all about your relationship with food and your weight. With bulimia you control your weight in a constant cycle of over eating and then forcing your body to get rid of the food you’ve just eaten.

When does this happen?

Some people use bulimia as a way of coping with difficult situations e.g. exam stress or bullying or it could be because of your feelings and emotions around sudden changes happening in your life. Bulimia may allow you to feel in control of their eating, they feel better about life, and other stuff which may feel out of control.

What does it look like?

If you have bulimia you want to control your weight and body shape, and you do this by eating lots and lots of food – often called binge eating. You then make yourself sick (or you may take laxatives or diuretics) to get rid of it – known as purging.

Sadly, bulimia can cause serious health problems, including issues with your teeth caused by the stomach acid when you’re sick, chemical imbalances caused by vomiting and laxative use, which in turn can make you feel generally unwell. Your nails, skin, hair and more seriously, potentially your heart, can all be affected by bulimia.

How is it treated?

As with anorexia you need to ask for help as soon as possible. The longer the cycle goes on, the harder it will be to break. You can talk to your GP or school nurse, if you’re still at school. They may think it would be helpful to refer you to a specialist or give you some self-help guides.

Cognitive Behaviour therapy (CBT) can be used to help to overcome Bulimia

What can I do?

  • Speak to a trusted person about how you are feeling; this could be family, friends, doctor, school nurse or counsellor who may ask if you would give your consent for a referral to be made to a service such as CAMHS who can help you overcome the bulimia.
  • Try and stick to a regular pattern of eating and avoid skipping meals. If you start missing meals you will become more preoccupied with food.
  • Changing the way you manage your eating can be hard, make sure you have someone you can talk to about how you feel throughout this change.
  • Try and identify the times when you are most at risk of over eating and plan other non-food related activities for this time, such as meeting a friend.
  • Make sure you get enough sleep: if you are tired, you may want to keep eating to boost your energy, take a nap or go to bed earlier instead.

For more information on visit Young Minds or the eating disorder charity Beat. Or find out how you can access our services so that we can support your recovery.

Last updated: 8 March, 2018