The Relationship Between Bulimia and Anxiety


Bulimia Nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by binge eating and compensatory behaviours to control weight gain, such as purging or excessive exercise. Individuals with bulimia tend to unduly associate their self-value with their weight and shape, often accompanied by feelings of anxiety.

Anxiety disorders often arise early in life during childhood and adolescence, and prior to the development of an eating disorder. However, anxiety disorders may commonly co-occur with bulimia.

Bulimia may serve as a coping mechanism to deal with feelings of anxiety. Anxiety is increased prior to a binge and decreases during a binge. When individuals with bulimia eat, certain neurotransmitters linked to positive emotions, known as serotonin and dopamine, become elevated. Binge eating decreases anxiety in the short term and generates positive feelings associated with high levels of these neurotransmitters. However, the anxiety reappears after a binge episode commonly together with feelings of guilt and shame. Individuals with bulimia will then engage in purging behaviours, such as vomiting or excessive exercise, in order to compensate for the binge and control their weight.

People usually report that anxiety becomes worse after a binge episode, hence reinforcing the cycle of binging and purging behaviours.

Individuals suffering from both anxiety and bulimia is important that they receive treatment focusing on both disorders. At WeightMatters we offer interventions to help you manage anxiety and improve your relationship with food. Our expert team of counsellors and psychotherapists will work with your headspace to help you understand deeper themes that might be causing your anxiety. You will learn new healthier ways to deal with stress without the need to turn to food. We will work with you to balance your nutrition which will stabilise your physiology, and thereby reduce the physiological symptoms of the anxiety.

Binge Eating Disorder Treatment

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