Bulimia and Binge Eating Disorders

Understanding Bulimia Nervosa: A Multifaceted Eating Disorder

Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder comprising overeating followed by purging or excessive exercise. This disorder is often driven by a distorted body image and an intense fear of gaining weight. Bulimia nervosa can have severe physical and psychological consequences. Excessive eating and purging are done secretly.

Causes and Risk Factors

  1. Psychological Factors: Individuals with Bulimia Nervosa often suffer from low self-esteem and perfectionism. The disorder may arise as an attempt to exert control over one’s body in response to feelings of inadequacy or lack of control in other areas of life.
  2. Society’s emphasis on thinness and beauty has been implicated in developing eating disorders. Exposure to thin body images can lead to body dissatisfaction and Bulimia Nervosa.
  3. Biological Factors: Genetic predisposition may also play a role in Bulimia Nervosa. The disorder is more common in individuals with a family history of eating disorders. Changes in brain chemicals that regulate appetite, mood, and impulse control may contribute to the development of the disorder.
  4. Traumatic events, such as abuse or neglect and major life changes or stressors, can also contribute to the onset of Bulimia Nervosa.

Symptoms and Diagnostic Criteria

Diagnosis of Bulimia Nervosa requires meeting DSM-5 criteria. These include:

  1. Binge eating involves devouring much food and not feeling in control.
  2. The misuse of laxatives and other medications, fasting, or over-exercising to prevent weight gain.
  3. Self-induced vomiting is always done in secrecy.
  4. Self-evaluation is overly influenced by body shape and weight.
  5. On average, binge eating and compensatory behaviors occur at least once a week for three months.

Physical and Psychological Complications

Bulimia Nervosa can cause electrolyte imbalances, dehydration, gastrointestinal issues, and dental problems. Psychological complications may include depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and suicide risk.

Treatment and Management

  1. Psychotherapy: Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of the most effective treatments for Bulimia Nervosa. It helps individuals recognize and change negative patterns of thinking and behavior.
  2. Antidepressants, like SSRIs, can be used with therapy to manage symptoms.
  3. An essential treatment component is consulting with a nutritionist to develop a healthy eating plan.
  4. Peer support can benefit some individuals as they can share experiences and strategies for coping with the disorder.
  5. Day treatment placements with group and individual psychotherapy sessions.

Binge Eating Disorder

Title: Binge Eating and Obesity: An Intricate Connection

Binge eating disorder (BED) and obesity are two interrelated conditions that are prevalent in today’s society. Binge eating is characterized by consuming a large amount of food quickly and feeling of losing control. Obesity is having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher. It is associated with an excess accumulation of body fat. Binge eating and obesity have a strong correlation.

The Nature of Binge Eating Disorder

Binge Eating Disorder is the most common eating disorder in the United States. Unlike bulimia nervosa, binge eating episodes are not followed by compensatory behaviors such as purging. Guilt, distress, and embarrassment can contribute to BED episodes.

Causes and Risk Factors of Binge Eating

  1. Psychological Factors: People with depression, anxiety, or other mood disorders may use food as a coping mechanism. Those with low self-esteem are more likely to engage in binge eating.
  2. Social pressures can lead to BED. Easy availability and marketing of high-calorie foods can trigger binges.
  3. Genetic predisposition plays a role in the development of BED. Certain chemicals in the brain linked to hunger, fullness, and food intake may be off balance in individuals with binge eating disorders.

The Consequence: Obesity

Binge eating can lead to excessive calorie intake, which results in weight gain if not balanced with physical activity. Repeated binge eating episodes can accumulate excess weight, leading to obesity.

The Complications of Obesity

  1. Obesity can lead to heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancer.
  2. Being obese can also affect mental health, leading to depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem.
  3. Obese individuals often face social stigma and discrimination, worsening mental health issues.

Addressing Binge Eating to Combat Obesity

  1. CBT effectively treats BED by helping individuals recognize triggers and create coping strategies.
  2. Medication can help treat binge eating disorders.
  3. Lifestyle modifications include eating a balanced diet and regular physical activity. These are essential to managing BED and obesity.
  4. Joining a support group is because individuals share experiences and learn from others who face similar challenges.

Family therapy sessions are part of the treatment for these eating disorders. These sessions may occur in weekly meetings.

Help is available:


Please direct questions and comments to Dr. Schwartz at Email:



One thought on “Bulimia and Binge Eating Disorders”

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: