Written by Dr. Vivekanand, MBBS | 
Medically Reviewed by dr. reeja tharu, M.Phil.,Ph.D on Dec 07, 2014

Features of Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia develops in late adolescents with an irrational fear of becoming obese, characterised by the phenomenon of Binge Eating and includes specific eating and other odd personal habits.

Symptoms of Bulimia Nervosa that characterise the development of the condition are:

  • The onset of Bulimia Nervosa is generally in late adolescence.
  • There is an intense irrational fear of becoming obese.
  • The patient suffers from what is known as 'body image disturbance,' where the person is unable to perceive the body size accurately.
  • The person suffering from bulimia is not necessarily underweight.
  • A predisposing factor of concern about shape and weight is present.
  • Statistics on Bulimia Nervosa show a quarter of the patients as having an earlier history of Anorexia Nervosa.
  • Bulimia frequently follows a phase of dietary restrictions that with time worsens, with alarming frequencies of overeating (Binge Eating).
  • As this phenomenon of Binge Eating continues, the patient, at a certain stage, adopts self-induced methods like vomiting or abuse of laxatives as a compensatory action.

The characteristic warning signs of Bulimia include:

Very odd eating habits, like:

  • A preference to eat alone or in secrecy.
  • Regular pattern of sudden disappearance of the individual after eating.
  • Sudden changes in preference for choice food.
  • Sudden disappearance of huge quantities of various food items, and the presence of short-eat wrappers found hidden in the room or other whereabouts.
  • Eating large quantities of food but showing no signs of weight gain.

Other features include:

  • Exercising excessively.
  • Distorted thoughts about their body, and hence avoiding looking into a mirror.
  • Most of the patients try to wear loose ill-fitting clothes in order to hide their bodies.
  • Presence of discoloured and scratched fingernails due to their usage for vomiting by sticking them down the throat.
  • Tooth and mouth problems like discoloration and ulcers.
  • Constant and regular inflammation and irritation of the throat.
  • Irregular or absent periods.


  1. Shorter Oxford Textbook of Psychiatry (IVth Edition): Oxford University Press Michael Gelder, Richard Mayou & Philip Cowen.
  2. A Short Textbook of Psychiatry (Vth Edition): Jaypee Brothers, Niraj Ahuja, MD.
  3. Bulimia nervosa: an ominous variant of anorexia nervosa. Psych Med. 1979; 9:429-48. Russell, Gerald F.M.
  4. Oxford Handbook of Clinical Specialities. 6th Edition. Oxford press. Judith Colier, Murray Longmore, Peter Scally.
  5. Russell, Gerald F.M. Bulimia nervosa : an ominous variant of anorexia nervosa. Psych Med. 1979; 9:429-48.


NINA1 Sunday, February 26, 2012

There is so much information about eating disorders. But almost no information about how or where to get help.

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