Bulimia nervosa is a serious eating disorder marked by recurring episodes of binging – consumption of excessive amounts of food in a short period of time – followed by compensatory behavior designed to “undo” the impact of the binge episode.
What are the two types of bulimia?
Specifically, there are two types of bulimia:
Purging Type – When the binge episode is followed by self-induced vomiting or misuse of laxatives or diuretics. This is the most common form of bulimia.
Non-Purging Type – When the binge episode is followed by excessive exercise or fasting.
How is bulimia diagnosed?
Bulimia is an incredibly complex condition, with many medical, behavioral, and nutritional factors. For official clinical diagnosis, the binging/compensatory cycle generally occurs on average at least once a week for at least three months, although less frequent episodes are still a cause for concern. Individuals with bulimia often experience a loss of control during the binge and severe shame and distress following the episode. Typically, a physical exam, lab tests, psychological evaluation will be needed for a bulimia diagnosis.
What causes bulimia?
In most cases, bulimia is rooted in a strong dissatisfaction with one’s appearance, low self-esteem or an obsession with weight loss. It is intensified by various environmental, genetic and behavioral influences or risk factors. Research data suggest that social transition, media exposure, and certain peer environments that may involve social comparison and teasing may all contribute to risk.
How to tell if someone has bulimia
It can often be difficult to identify those with bulimia. The binge/purge cycle often occurs in private and many individuals with bulimia are at – or close to – a body weight that is considered within range according to age, sex, developmental trajectory and physical health. Bulimia symptoms can include dehydration or weakness due to electrolyte imbalance, dental issues, scars on fingers or knuckles, intense fear of gaining weight, social withdrawal, and over exercise.
Who is affected by bulimia?
Like all eating disorders, bulimia impacts those of all ages, genders and demographics.
Women make up the majority of cases of bulimia. According to Biological Psychiatry, the lifetime prevalence of bulimia is 1.5% in women and 0.5% in men.
Bulimia among adolescents has increased each decade since the 1930s, according to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA). Incidence among women aged 10 to 39 tripled between 1988 and 1993.
Other research cited by NEDA shows an increased risk of bulimia among the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning) community. Lifetime prevalence is also higher among Latino and African-American populations, according to Mirror-Mirror.org.
What are the health risks associated with bulimia?
Bulimia is a serious eating disorder that can result in significant behavioral and physical complications. Bulimia health risks include severe depression, anxiety, cardiac issues, and, in some cases, death.
In addition, electrolyte imbalances, mouth damage, and gum disease are often caused by frequent purging. Laxative abuse is common among those with bulimia and can disrupt the body’s natural gastrointestinal functioning making digestive issues, peptic ulcers and pancreatitis additional bulimia health risks. The caustic stomach acid present in vomit can irritate the esophagus and lead to acid reflux as well. Additionally, social withdrawal and damage to personal relationships are common among those with bulimia.
How is Bulimia Treated?
Bulimia is a serious eating disorder that requires professional treatment. Walden’s bulimia treatment is based on evidence-based practices and skills training, which are proven to yield a higher rate of positive outcomes. This includes Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and Family-Based Treatment (FBT).
If you are concerned that you, or a loved one, may have an eating disorder, we are here to help. Please fill out the form on this page or email firstname.lastname@example.org to connect with a member of our Welcome Center. Begin your journey to recovery today.