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What are the symptoms of bulimia?1

Bulimia, also known as bulimia nervosa is a serious eating disorder characterized by cycles of bingeing and compensatory behaviors. Compensatory behaviors include self-induced vomiting and other behaviors designed to undo the effects of binge eating. Additional symptoms include experiencing a lack of control over eating, over-valuation of body shape and weight, obsessing about food throughout the day or evening, and eating alone due to embarrassment or shame about the type and/or quantity of food consumed.

How common is bulimia?1

Bulimia affects 1-1.5% of adolescent and young adult women. Females are more frequently impacted by bulimia with a female-to-male ratio of 10:1.

What is CBT for bulimia like?

The CBT therapist starts by educating clients about their diagnosis of bulimia and about CBT, helps clients set goals, and teaches clients essential thinking and behavioral skills. When working with clients with bulimia, the CBT therapists puts special emphasis on thoughts and beliefs that lead to binge eating, as well as the thoughts and beliefs that support engaging in maladaptive compensatory behaviors (i.e., inappropriate use of diuretics, laxatives, or other medications; fasting; excessive exercise). For instance, CBT for bulimia nervosa involves working with clients to decrease the negative or distorted view of the self, based on their shape or weight.

1 American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing. doi:10.1176/appi.books.9780890425596.744053