Bulimia is a medical condition where patients eat large amounts of food and then either vomit, use laxatives, take enemas or exercise obsessively. These are referred to as compensatory behaviors.
People with bulimia often “binge and purge” in secret, in order to maintain their ideal body weight. It may be hard to tell if someone has bulimia, however, there are specific tell-tale signs to look out for.
Some symptoms of Bulimia include:
- Eating, in a certain period of time (e.g., within any 2-hour period), an amount of food that is definitely larger than what the average person would eat during a similar period of time and under similar circumstances.
- A lack of control over eating during the episode.
The severity level of a bulimia diagnosis is based on how frequently the behaviors take place.
Different levels of severity:
- Mild: An average of 1–3 episodes of inappropriate compensatory behaviors per week.
- Moderate: An average of 4–7 episodes of inappropriate compensatory behaviors per week.
- Severe: An average of 8–13 episodes of inappropriate compensatory behaviors per week.
- Extreme: An average of 14 or more episodes of inappropriate compensatory behaviors per week.
There are two types of bulimia. One is the purging type, where the person regularly forces themselves to vomit, take laxatives, enemas or diuretics. There is also the non-purging type where the patient may excessively exercise or fast but does not regularly commit purging behaviors.
Medications such as Fluoxetine, Sertraline and Paroxetine relieve bulimia symptoms. Psychotherapy helps the patient re-evaluate unhealthy thoughts and behaviors regarding food. Support groups also help alleviate the social stigma and distress associated with this disorder.
Bressert, S. (2014). Bulimia (Bulimia Nervosa) Symptoms. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 24, 2016, from PschCentral