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Side Effects of Bulimia Nervosa - Depression and Anxiety

Updated on September 21, 2011
Women are many times more likely than men to have eating disorders.
Women are many times more likely than men to have eating disorders.

Let me begin by saying that depression and anxiety have a dual connection with bulimia, both as a cause and as a consequence. Depression can be one of the side effects of bulimia, and anxieties and a depressed mental state could cause bulimia episodes.

I found that my bulimia was triggered by my inner pain my inner emptiness. Stress, anxiety, depression, feelings of being overwhelmed or being isolated and alone can contribute to the development of an eating disorder. These emotions are not the only causes nor are they always present in bulimics, but they frequently appear in people with food addictions.

For me, the binging was an attempt to fill up a hole inside of me. It was my coping mechanism that only temporarily relieved the anxiety, but never helped to really fill that hole. Instead the binging and purging made the effects of bulimia on me and my life all the worse.

Personality types that are prone to depression and eating disorders

There is a widely accepted view that certain personality traits in people are prone to depression, anxieties and mood disorders, as well as eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia.

Many bulimics are perfectionists who measure themselves, their achievements and abilities by an often unrealistic yardstick.  They are very exacting and demanding of themselves.  They take it very seriously that they should look a certain way, have a certain kind of body, achieve certain things, and should be able to control all of these different aspects of life.

It is a perception that they are somehow not good enough, flawed, or unsuccessful that worries and depresses them.  It is the drive to be perfect and please others that have them turn to unhealthy and self destructive activities as a form of coping.   Frequently, but not always, the drive to please others and be a perfect child begins in early maturity and is impacted by the dynamics in the family.

Another less common trait is that of obsessive or obsessive compulsive behaviors that can coincide with bulimia.  People with bulimia can obsess about food, their weight, calories, their body parts or things completely unrelated to their eating disorder.  There is also new evidence of impulsive personality traits such as shoplifting, promiscuity, and substance abuse among bulimics.

Why women are most at risk

Women tend to give of themselves constantly and even to the extent of going beyond their own resources, both physical and emotionally. These acts of selflessness put them in danger of depression and are a possible reason why women are twice as likely as men to become depressed. Women are also many times more likely than men to have eating disorders.

Bulimia clearly is a disease that effects women of Westernized countries the most.  Eating disorders and the media, at least in the United States, go hand in hand.  During research studies the impact television, magazines and the common media’s viewpoint about what the ideal woman should look like have been found to have a greater impact on women than men.

How depression and anxiety can be one of the effects of bulimia

In many women with bulimia, their bulimia may coexist with depression and with many women it may be a case of what came first – the depression or the bulimia.

Episodes of binging and purging may be perceived by a bulimic as a lack of control triggering guilt and make them feel even worse and more depressed than before. This is how insecurities, anxieties, and worries can lead to bulimic behavior and ironically become worse due to the bulimia.

Depression itself can be a killer and could progress to the point where thoughts of self harm, and even suicide, may occur. This is why bulimia treatments very often include antidepressant medications.  Therapy aimed at controlling depression can also form a part of the holistic healing process.


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      Aly 2 years ago

      "There is also new evidence of impulsive personality traits such as shoplifting, promiscuity, and substance abuse among bulimics."- Where does this new evidence come from? I have suffered from Bulimia most of my life but I have never shoplifted, done drugs, and I am saving myself for marriage. I'm not sure where that even comes from.