Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by recurrent episodes of binge eating followed by compensatory behaviors, or "purging". Types of purging include self-induced vomiting, fasting, overexercising, or the abuse of laxatives, enemas, or diuretics. This disorder occurs among some who suffer from anorexia. However, most people with bulimia are women.
Because suffers from bulimia tend to be an average weight, this disorder tends be more difficult to diagnose than other eating disorders.
Criteria for bulimia nervosa
Fewer people meet the clinical criteria of bulimia nervosa as described by Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), released in 2013. The criteria includes both objective and psychological characteristics that indicate the disorder.
- Recurrent episodes of binge eating. An episode of binge eating is characterised by both of the following:
- Eating, in a discrete period of time (e.g. within any 2-hour period), an amount of food that is definitely larger than most people would eat during a similar period of time and under similar circumstances.
- A sense of lack of control over eating during the episode (e.g. a feeling that one cannot stop eating or control what or how much one is eating).
- Recurrent inappropriate compensatory behaviour in order to prevent weight gain, such as self-induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives, diuretics, or other medications, fasting, or excessive exercise.
- The binge eating and inappropriate compensatory behaviours both occur, on average, at least once a week for three months.
- Self-evaluation is unduly influenced by body shape and weight.
- The disturbance does not occur exclusively during episodes of anorexia nervosa.
- Grison, Sarah, and Michael S. Gazzaniga. Psychology in Your Life. W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2017.
- American Psychiatric Association (2013).