The effects of bulemia are very serious. Bulimia is an eating disorder in which the person eats large quantity of food in a short period of time (binges) and then rids him or herself of the food to avoid weight gain (purges). They may purge by vomiting or by using laxatives to make the food leave their system faster so less of it gets absorbed. People with bulimia may also abuse diet pills and/or exercise compulsively in order to avoid weight gain.

Medical Effects of Bulemia

The medical effects of bulimia are very serious. People with bulimia often require inpatient hospital care due to their condition. If untreated, bulimia can result in death.

Bulimia causes dehydration and low levels of potassium, magnesium, and sodium in the blood. It causes anemia (low iron in the blood). It causes an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia). Over time it weakens the heart muscle and can lead to heart failure. Dehydration and vitamin deficiencies can contribute to kidney and liver problems as well.


Bulimia can cause diarrhea, constipation, and other intestinal problems. The acidic content of vomit damages the teeth and the esophagus. It can cause stomach ulcers and sores inside the mouth. In severe cases, the stomach can even rupture.

Bulimia causes hormonal imbalances leading to an absent or irregular menstrual period in women. It can cause infertility.

Bulimia causes generalized muscle weakness and overall fatigue. People with bulimia may lack the energy for daily activities and may became lethargic and withdrawn.

People with bulimia may be of normal body weight, which they maintain by purging after binging. In many cases, however, they are underweight, sometimes dangerously so.

Psychological Effects of Bulemia

The psychological effects of bulimia are very serious, as well. Inpatient mental health treatment is often required, followed up by outpatient care. Medical treatment alone will not be sufficient; treatment for bulimia must include a psychological component. The medical effects of bulimia must be treated and the patient medically stable before psychological treatment can begin, however.

People with bulimia may be suffering from clinical depression, anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or other psychiatric illnesses. If so, these disorders must be treated along with the bulimia. This may involve psychotropic medication.

Psychological effects of bulimia include feelings of depression, anxiety, shame, and low self-esteem. These things may contribute to causing bulimia, but can also be consequences of bulimia. It can become a vicious circle.

People with bulimia tend to obsess about their weight and their appearance. They do not have a realistic body image and may believe they are overweight when in fact they are underweight.

Treatment for the psychological effects of bulimia involves addressing the above issues and teaching the patient new coping skills.

Social Effects of Bulemia

The social effects of bulemia are often not talked about or treated, but they are just as important as the psychological effects. In fact, the two are very much related to each other.

Due to the fatigue brought on by the condition, people with bulimia may not have the energy to socialize. For that reason, and because they are so focused on food and on their weight, they may have difficulty developing and maintaining relationships with others.

In addition, people with bulimia are often clinically depressed. Symptoms of depression include low self-esteem and feelings of worthlessness. These feelings can lead to social isolation and withdrawal.

Treating the social effects of bulimia may involve group therapy and/or family therapy. It may also involve teaching social skills, communication skills, and leisure skills. Successful treatment programs are those that address all the effects of bulimia, including the social effects.

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