Signs and Symptoms

The hallmark symptoms of bulimia include:

  • Binging on large amounts of food within a short period of time
  • Purging the body by inducing vomiting, using laxatives, diuretics, or appetite suppressants
  • Alternating binges with diets, resulting in weight fluctuations

When to Seek Professional Help

You should seek professional help and guidance when the teenager:

  • Skips meals and prefers to eat alone
  • Spends much time alone in the bathroom
  • Exercises excessively
  • Abuses diet pills
  • Steals and hoards food
  • Uses over-the-counter emetics and laxatives

How Bulimia is Treated

A number of treatment methods have proven effective. These include:

  • Prescription of antidepressants to alleviate the symptoms and/or relieve accompanying depression, anxiety or obsessive-compulsive symptoms
  • Individual therapy (particularly cognitive behavior therapy and interpersonal therapy), group and family therapy
  • Education on healthy eating habits by a nutritionist

The Risks of Not Treating a Teenager with Bulimia

Undetected or untreated bulimia can lead to:

  • Dental cavities and loss of tooth enamel
  • A dangerous electrolyte balance, irregular heartbeat
  • Impulsive behaviors such as overspending and sexual promiscuity
  • Depression, anxiety, low self-esteem
  • Drug and alcohol abuse

More Information

For more information and a list of related articles, visit the Eating Disorders page of our A-Z Disorder Guide.