What are the symptoms of Bulimia Nervosa?
- Recurrent episodes of binge eating. An episode of being eating is defined as:
a. Eating in a discrete period of time an amount of food that is definitely larger than most people would eat in similar circumstances
b. An accompanying sense of having no control over what or how much is eaten
- Recurrent inappropriate compensatory behaviors after the binge episodes (e.g., self-induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives, diuretics, enemas, or other purgatives, fasting, excessive exercise)
- The binge episodes occur at least twice per week for at least three months
- Self-esteem is exceedingly influenced by body shape and weight
- The binge/purge pattern does not occur exclusively during a bout of Anorexia Nervosa
Who develops Bulimia Nervosa?
Approximately 1% to 4% of women in industrialized countries develop Bulimia Nervosa. Its onset is typically during adolescence or young adulthood, but it can have its initial occurrence earlier or later in life as well. Females outnumber males about 10 to 1 with this disorder.
What are the risks associated with Bulimia Nervosa?
Physically as is the case for Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa affects multiple body systems:
Metabolism — weakness, irritability, dehydration, electrolyte imbalance
Gastrointestinal — abdominal pain, automatic vomiting, obstipation (severe constipation due to intestinal obstruction), constipation, irregular bowels, bloating
Reproductive — spotty/scanty menstrual periods, infertility
Face/neck — swollen cheeks and neck, dental decay, throat pain
Cardiomuscular — weakness, heart palpitations
Psychologically, the person with Bulimia Nervosa tends to be pre-occupied with thoughts about food and weight to a degree that may interfere with performance in work or school settings. It is not uncommon for the individual with Bulimia Nervosa to also experience depression and anxiety as well as struggle with impulse control problems (e.g., substance abuse).
Socially, the person with Bulimia Nervosa may find it difficult to participate in shared activities with others for fear of overeating or being prevented from purging after eating. Due to the secretive nature of binge/purge behavior, the individual may find him- or herself lying to friends and family about his or her whereabouts or behavior.