BULIMIA NERVOSA 307.51 (F50.2)
Individuals diagnosed with bulimia nervosa undertake frequent binge eating, followed by expelling the food, typically by inducing vomiting, but also through exercising and the use of laxative agents, diuretics, and enemas (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). The binge eating occurrences are often prompted by a negative perception of one’s body image, temporarily alleviated by the binge eating episode. Since the individual with bulimia nervosa is overanxious about body weight, purging of the food is viewed as a necessity. This is in contrast to binge eating disorder, which does not involve the purging of food after an excess of food consumption (Bulik et al., 2012). Furthermore, although bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa are similar in some respects, the two are in no way identical eating disorders. Patients with anorexia nervosa are generally underweight (Steinglass et al., 2013), whereas bulimia nervosa patients are not necessarily underweight, and are often at a normal body weight (Bulik et al., 2012).
There is no definite age of onset of bulimia nervosa, but it is typically seen in adolescent males and females (Smink et al., 2012). Bulimia nervosa is somewhat more prevalent in females than in males, with 1.3% of females suffering from bulimia nervosa (in a national sample), and .5% of males (Swanson et al., 2011).
Bulimia nervosa is associated with various symptoms, detailed by the American Psychiatric Association (2013) and the peer-reviewed literature. Three crucial features that define bulimia nervosa have been articulated (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). These are, firstly, the repeated indulgence in binge eating; secondly, resorting to compensatory behaviors to ameliorate the fear of gaining weight; and thirdly, low self-esteem issues that stem from an unwarranted, critical feeling of one’s body image and weight. There is an additional feature that must be present alongside these symptoms in order for a patient to be diagnosed with bulimia nervosa: any binge eating events followed by compensation needs to be relatively frequent. Specifically, if these events take place at a minimum of one time per week – over a 3 month timespan – then a diagnosis of bulimia nervosa may be made.
Although these are the symptoms that must be present in order for a diagnosis of bulimia nervosa to be made, there are often other symptoms that accompany bulimia nervosa. Signs of psychosis have been found in patients with eating disorders like bulimia nervosa (Miotto et al., 2010). Moreover, those with bulimia nervosa frequently have the feeling that there is something flawed with their mind, and that others are at fault for their problems (Miotto et al., 2010). In addition, there is evidence that a feeling of loneliness is correlated with the occurrence of bulimia nervosa (Levine, 2012), highlighting the psychological dynamics that are at play behind this disorder.
Causes of Bulimia...