Bulimia Nervosa is an Eating Disorder, as diagnosed from the DSM-IV or the ICD-10. It is characterised by periods of binge-eating, secretive excessive eating, followed by methods of weight control, to counter-act the binge. These can include purging, otherwise known as self-induced vomiting, laxative abuse, diuretic abuse, periods of starvation or excessive exercise.
It is thought that between 1-2% of the general population suffer from Bulimia Nervosa.
The DSM-IV requires recurrent episodes of binge-eating (2 times a week, for 3 months) followed by recurrent inappropriate compensatory behaviour in oder to prevent weight gain.
Within this, there are two sub-categories of bulimia.
- purging type: involves purging, or the use of laxatives and diuretics as methods of weight control.
- non-purging type: involves excessive fasting or exercise as methods of weight control.
The cycles of binge-eating are usually characterised by a feeling of loss of control, occurring rapidly, usually without any pre-planning, and can be triggered by an event, emotion, or any other triggering factor to the individual.
Post a binge-purge session, a sufferer may be prone to feelings of low self-esteem, low self-confidence, suicidal ideation, self harm or even elation etc.
Bulimia usually occurs in adolescence, but onset can be at nearly all ages. The median age for onset of bulimia is 18.
It is thought that around 0.2% of young males suffer from Bulimia Nervosa, although in reality this statistic could be a lot higher due to sufferer's not seeking help.
Despite being such a dehabilitating eating disorder, the prognosis for recovery from Bulimia Nervosa is a lot more successful than that of Anorexia Nervosa, especially if treatment is given out-patient rather than in-patient, and therapies such as CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy).
"The years I spent battling Bulimia were some of the worst of my life. At my worst I was binge-purging up to 10 times a day; where I was, what time it was, what I was doing just didn't come into the equation. It dominated every single one of my thoughts. It was a thrill and a buzz, but it was also the worst thing in my life, and all I could think was how disgusting I was that I couldn't even manage the tiniest bit of self control. In the end it became an addiction, I needed my daily top-up, and also my control mechanism, if the tiniest thing went out of place in my life, I would binge-purge. Although I have not binge-purged for a while now, it is still something that resides within me, an odd kind of longing, that I know will not go away instantly, but each day I fight it, and each day I get my life back."