Bulimia is an eating disorder marked by consumption of large quantities of food at one sitting, followed by induced vomiting of taking laxatives to get rid of the body food. It usually affects young women, especially adolescents, but is observed in older women and men also. People with bulimia are often obsessed with food and self gratification, and the disorder frequently accompanies Anorexia Nervosa.
Such behavior stems from psychological difficulties involving a compulsive desire for perfection, poor self-image, and stressful familt relationships; depression is also common. Research in the late 1980's says that bulimia itselg, however, may be caused by impaired secretion of a hormone, chlecystokinin (CCK), that normally induces a feeling of fullness after a meal. Severe medical problems can result from bulimia nervosa, such as nutritional deficiencies and hormonal changes leading to menstrual irregularities. Where bulimia has been present for a long time, metabolic imbalance and heart disprders can occur. Treatment is most successful when medical therapy and psychotherapy are combined.