What is Bulimia?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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 Risks Related to Bulimia?
Bulimia can result in significant behavioral and physical complications. This can 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. Social withdrawal and damage to personal relationships are common among those with bulimia.
If You Are Ready to Regain Your Life, Walden Can Help.
If you are concerned that you – or a loved one – may have an eating disorder, we are here to help. Please call 781-647-6727 to speak with a Walden eating disorders intake specialist, or complete the form on the right, to start the road to recovery.