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Where Can I Find Efficient Information About Bulimia Nervosa?

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Where Can I Find Efficient Information About Bulimia Nervosa?

Postby Nadav » Sat Sep 09, 2017 2:09 am

Bulimia nervosa, more commonly known as bulimia, is an eating disorder. It is a psychological condition in which the subject engages in recurrent binge eating followed by intentionally doing one or more of the following in order to compensate for the intake of the food and prevent weight gain:


inappropriate use of laxatives, enemas, diuretics or other medication

excessive exercising


Contents [hide]

1 DSM-IV criteria

2 History of Bulimia Nervosa

3 Causes

4 Genetic Factors

5 Environmental Factors

6 Patterns of bulimic cycles

7 Subtypes of Bulimia

8 Consequences of bulimia nervosa

9 How to Diagnose Bulimia Nervosa

10 Related Psychological Disorders

11 Differences Between Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa

12 Treatment of Bulimia Nervosa

13 Mortality risk

14 At-risk groups

15 Prevention

16 See also

17 External links


DSM-IV criteria

The following six criteria should be met for a patient to be diagnosed with bulimia: [1] [2]

The patient feels incapable of controlling the urge to binge, even during the binge itself, and consumes a larger amount of food than a person would normally consume at one sitting.

The patient purges him or herself of the recent intake, resorting to vomiting, laxatives, diuretics, exercising, etc.

The patient engages in such behavior at least twice per week for three months.

The patient is focused upon body image and the desperate desire to appear thin.

The patient does not meet the diagnostic criteria for anorexia nervosa. (Some anorectics may demonstrate bulimic behaviours in their illness: binge-eating and purging themselves of food on a regular or infrequent basis at certain times during the course of their disease. Alternatively, some individuals might switch from having anorexia to having bulimia. The mortality rate for anorectics who practice bulimic behaviors is twice that of anorectics who do not. [3])

The patient is of normal weight or overweight.

Please note that, in general, diagnostic criteria are considered a guide. A legitimate clinical diagnosis can often be made when not all, but most, of the criteria are met.


History of Bulimia Nervosa

Bulima nervoasa was first described by Professor Gerald Russell in 1979 whilst he worked at the Royal Free Hospital, London. Bulimia nervosa has been recognized as an autonomous eating disorder by the American Psychiatric Association since 1980 [4]. The word ?bulimia? is Latin, getting its roots from the Greek word ?boulimia? which directly translates to mean ?extreme hunger? [5].



Bulimia is often less about food, and more to do with deep psychological issues and profound feelings of lack of control. Binge/purge episodes can be severe, sometimes involving rapid and out of control feeding that can stop when the sufferers "are interrupted by another person . . . or [when] their stomach hurts from over-extension . . . This cycle may be repeated several times a week or, in serious cases, several times a day."[6] Sufferers can often "use the destructive eating pattern to gain control over their lives".[7]


Genetic Factors

Research done in 2003, shows a link to the development of bulimia nervosa with an area on the 10p chromosome. This evidence further supports the belief that the susceptibility of developing an eating disorder (specifically bulimia) is strongly linked to ones genetic components [8]. Familial links include a history of obesity, substance abuse, and depressive disorder. Twin studies also strongly support this genetic factor. While both genetics and unique environments contributed to the development of the disorder, twin studies indicate a slightly stronger effect from the genetic predisposition than from environmental circumstances. Significant rates of sexual assault and violence also indicate a possible correlation between victimization and the development of bulimia. Chemically, low levels of serotonin contribute to the continuation of the bulimic cycle, whether it is contributing to or arising from the nutritional deficiency and vomiting is still undetermined. The protein leptin decreases hunger levels in a person, and is more often blocked in patients with bulimia causing abnormal hunger levels in comparison with the norm. Due to the binging and purging cycle the stomach is stretched to an enlarged state, and over the progression of time becomes more permanently enlarged, making it necessary for more food to be in the person?s stomach to reach a level of satiety. This is a primary cause of the need for a bulimic to gradually increase the caloric size of their binges, as the original quantities no longer satisfy their enlarged stomach [9].


Environmental Factors

Rates of anorexia are much more prevalent in western civilizations, to the point that the disorder is almost non-existent in eastern cultures. As western civilization is becoming a more prominent figure in other cultures, through movies and television primarily, we are seeing a dramatic increase in the incidence of eating disorders in these cultures. The disorder is also much more prevalent in the Caucasian race, though as media influences have become stronger, the disorder is becoming a rising problem in the African American and Hispanic communities. Women are also 90% of patients who suffer from this disorder, while men (primarily homosexual as they are more likely concerned with their appearance in a similar fashion as women) make up the remaining 10%. Females involved in activities which put an extreme emphasis on thinness and body type (such as gymnastics, dance, and cheerleading) are at the greatest risk for the development of eating disorders [10].


Patterns of bulimic cycles

The frequency of bulimic cycles will vary from person to person. Some will suffer from an episode every few months while others who are more severely ill may binge and purge several times a day. Some people may vomit automatically after they have eaten any food. Others will eat socially but may be bulimic in private. Some people do not regard their illness as a problem, while others despise and fear the vicious and uncontrollable cycle they are in. [11]


Subtypes of Bulimia

The specific subtypes differ in the way the bulimic relieves herself of the binge.

Purging Type- The purging type uses self-induced vomiting, laxatives, diuretics, enemas, or ipecac, as a mean of rapidly extricating the contents for their body. This type generally is more commonly found, and can use one or more of the above methods on a regular basis [Durand, Mark, Barlow, David. "Essentials of Abnormal Psychology Fourth Ed." Thomson Wadsworth, CA 2006, ISBN 0-534-60575-3].

Non-Purging Type- This type of bulimic is very rarely found (only approximately 6%-8%), as it is a less effective means of riding the body of such a large number of calories. This type of bulimic engages in excessive exercise or fasting following a binge in order to counteract the large amount of calories previously ingested. Often times purging type bulimics will use these methods intermittently, however not as their primary form of weight control following a binge [Durand, Mark, Barlow, David. "Essentials of Abnormal Psychology Fourth Ed." Thomson Wadsworth, CA 2006, ISBN 0-534-60575-3].


Consequences of bulimia nervosa



Electrolyte imbalance


Vitamin and mineral deficiencies

Teeth erosion and cavities, gum disease

Sialadenosis (salivary gland swelling)

Potential for gastric rupture during periods of bingeing

Esophageal reflux

Irritation, inflammation, and possible rupture of the esophagus

Laxative dependence

Peptic ulcers and pancreatitis

Emetic toxicity due to ipecac abuse

Swelling of the face and cheeks

Callused or bruised fingers

Dry or brittle skin, hair, and nails, or hair loss



Muscle atrophy

Decreased/increased bowel activity

Digestive problems that may be triggered, including Celiac, Crohn's Disease

Low blood pressure, hypotension

Orthostatic hypotension

High blood pressure, hypertension

Iron deficiency, anemia

Hormonal imbalances






Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

High risk pregnancy, miscarriage, still-born babies


Elevated blood sugar or hyperglycemia




Weakness and fatigue

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Cancer of the throat or voice box

Liver failure

Kidney infection and failure

Heart failure, heart arrhythmia, angina



Potentially death caused by heart attack or heart failure; lung collapse; internal bleeding, stroke, kidney failure, liver failure; pancreatitis, gastric rupture, perforated ulcer, depression and suicide.


How to Diagnose Bulimia Nervosa

As mentioned earlier, all six of the criteria listed in the DSM are required for a diagnosis of bulimia nervosa. However, these symptoms are oftentimes more difficult to spot, especially since unlike anorexia nervosa, in order to be classified as bulimic the person must be of normal or overweight. Likewise, the person is less likely to drop a significant amount of weight on a continual basis as does the anorectic, making the physical symptoms less noticeable, despite the fact that internal bodily functions are suffering. Because this disorder carries a great deal of shame, the bulimic will desperately try to hide their symptoms from family and friends. This disorder is more likely to span over a lifetime unnoticed, causing a great deal of isolation and stress for the suffering individual. Despite often times the lack of obvious physical symptoms, bulimia nervosa has proven to be fatal, as malnutrition takes a serious toll on every organ in your body. If any of the symptoms above are noticed one should consult with a doctor or psychologist for further assistance [12].


Related Psychological Disorders

Very often a patient with bulimia nervosa will also have some anxiety or mood disorder as well. Most commonly associated with bulimia is the incidence of anxiety, found in one study in 75% of bulimic patients. Also prominent in bulimic patients are mood disorders, most commonly depression, as well as substance abuse issues. Recent research disputes the fact that bulimia is an expression of depression, but instead is a consequence of the eating disorder itself [Durand, Mark, Barlow, David. "Essentials of Abnormal Psychology Fourth Ed." Thomson Wadsworth, CA 2006, ISBN 0-534-60575-3].


Differences Between Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa

The main criteria differences involve weight, as an anorexic must technically be classified as underweight (defined as a BMI < 18). Typically an anorexic is defined as refusal to maintain a normal weight by self-starvation. Another criteria which must usually be met is amenorrhea, the loss of her menstural cycle not caused by the normal cessation of menustration during menopause. Generally the anorexic does not engage in regular binging and purging sessions, although a patient who would frequently binge and purge however not maintain a normal weight would be classified as a purging anorexic, due to the underweight criteria being met [Diagnostic Statistics Manual IV]. Characteristically, those with bulimia nervosa feel more shame and out of control with their behaviors, as the anorexic meticulously controls her intake, a symptom that calms her anxiety around food as she feel she has control of it, naïve to the notion that it, in fact, controls her. For this reason, the bulimic is more likely to admit to having a problem, as they do not feel they are in control of their behavior. The anorexic is more likely to believe they are in control of their eating and much less likely to admit to needing help, or that a problem even exists in the first place. Similarly, both anorexics and bulimics have an overpowering sense of self that is determined by their weight and their perceptions of it. They both place all their achievements and successes as the result of their body, and for this reason are often depressed as they feel they are consistently failing to achieve the perfect body. For the bulimic, because she cannot achieve the low weight she feels physically that she is a failure and this outlook infultrates into all aspects of her life. The anorexic cannot see that she is truly underweight and is constantly working towards a goal that she will never meet. Because of this misperception she will never be thin enough, and therefore always working towards this unattainable goal. She too allows this failure at achieving the ?perfect body? to define her self worth. As both the anorexic and bulimic never feel satisfaction in the more important part of their lives, depression often accompanies these disorders. Research is still being done to determine whether depression is the initial predecessor to the disorder or if the disorder leads to the development of depression [Durand, Mark, Barlow, David. "Essentials of Abnormal Psychology Fourth Ed." Thomson Wadsworth, CA 2006, ISBN 0-534-60575-3].


Treatment of Bulimia Nervosa

Treatment is most effective when it is implemented early on in the development of the disorder. Unfortunately, since this disorder is often easier to hide and less physically noticeable, diagnosis and treatment often come when the disorder has already become a static part of the patient?s life. Historically, those with bulimia were often hospitalized to end the pattern and then released as soon as the symptoms had been relieved. However, this is now infrequently used, as this only addresses the surface of the problem, and soon after discharge the symptoms would often reappear as severe, if not worse, than when they had originally been. The most popular form of treatment for the disorder involves some form of therapy, often times group psychotherapy or cognitive behavioral therapy. These forms of therapy address both the underlying issue which cause the patient to engage in these behaviors, as well as the actual food symptoms as well. In combination with therapy, many psychiatrists will prescribe anti-depressants. Anti-depressants come in different forms, and the most promising drug to respond to bulimia has been an SSRI called fluoxetine. In a study done with 382 bulimia patients those who took between 20-60 mg of the drug reduced their symptoms from 45% to 67%, respectively. Unfortunately, since this disorder has only recently been recognized by the DSM, long-term outcomes of people with the disorder are unknown. Current research indicates that up to 30% of patients rapidly relapse while 40% are chronically symptomatic. The most related factor to one?s prognosis with this disorder is the rate at which they received treatment. Those who receive treatment early on for the disorder have the highest and most permanent recovery rates. The bottom line is, getting treatment early will be the best indicator of one?s permanent recovery of bulimia nervosa [Durand, Mark, Barlow, David. "Essentials of Abnormal Psychology Fourth Ed." Thomson Wadsworth, CA 2006, ISBN 0-534-60575-3].


Mortality risk

Eating disorders have one of the highest death rates of all mental illnesses. The Eating Disorders Association (UK) estimates a 10% mortality rate.[13] An 18% mortality rate has been suggested for Anorexia Nervosa.[14] In addition to the risk of suicide, ?death can occur after severe bingeing in bulimia nervosa as well?.[15] For perspective, these death rates are higher than those of some forms of cancer.


At-risk groups

Risk factors for bulimia are similar to those of other eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa:



those of age 10 through to 25


people who are active in dancing, modeling or gymnastics

students who are under heavy workloads

those who have suffered traumatic events in their lifetime such as child abuse and sexual abuse

those positioned in the higher echelons of the socioeconomic scale

the highly intelligent and/or high-achievers.[16]


The majority of bulimic patients are young females from 10 to 25 years old, although the disorder can occur in people of all ages and both sexes.

There can be a popular assumption that eating disorders are ?female diseases?, but the illnesses do not discriminate based on gender, and males can also suffer from them: ?even if only 5% of sufferers are male, hundreds of thousands of young men are affected?Studies have been conducted within the homosexual subculture, and have also focused on males who suffer from anorexia and bulimia. These point to a direct connection between gender identity conflict and eating disorder in males but not in females."[17] This does not indicate that only gender-conflicted males suffer from eating disorders, but there is "a tendency for eating disorders in males to go unrecognised or undiagnosed, due to reluctance among males to seek treatment for these stereotypically female conditions." [18]



Currently, there is no known way to prevent the onset of bulimia nervosa. However, as stressed earlier, the best method for preventing the progression of this disorder is early intervention by contacting your medical health professional and receiving psychotherapy. Adults have an immeasurable impact on their children, and focusing on developing a healthy lifestyle is key to raising healthy children in all aspects of life. Teaching children to adopt a healthy diet as a way of life and incorporating fun activities into their day will allow this to become second nature to them. Children should also be taught an emphasis on their internal characteristics and qualities rather than the external focus so much of society and the media tends to focus on. Action is the best method of teaching, and curtailing your own self-criticism and behavior will reflect substantially on your children?s impressions of themselves [19].


See also

Exercise bulimia

Anorexia nervosa

Binge eating disorder

Overeaters Anonymous


External links

Overeaters Anonymous website

Listen to Overeaters Anonymous speakers


The Something Fishy Website on Eating Disorders

Bulimia Nervosa - Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

Eating Disorders Association (EDA)

BBC-Mental Health

American Psychiatric Association

Web4health Eating disorder

Eating Disorders in Males

Mental Health Matters: Bulimia Nervosa

Psych Forums: Bulimia Forum

Helpguide: Bulimia Signs and Symptoms, Effects and Treatment

Somerset & Wessex Eating Disorders Association Eating Disorders support and information in Somerset, England

ECRI: Bulimia Nervosa Resource Guide for Family and Friends

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Categories: Malnutrition | Eating disorders

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Where Can I Find Efficient Information About Bulimia Nervosa?

Postby Fonteyne » Sat Sep 09, 2017 2:18 am

See the links below.
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