Individuals diagnosed with bulimia nervosa undertake frequent binge eating, followed by expelling the food, typically by inducing vomiting, but also through exercising and the use of laxative agents, diuretics, and enemas (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). The binge eating occurrences are often prompted by a negative perception of one’s body image, temporarily alleviated by the binge eating episode. Since the individual with bulimia nervosa is overanxious about body weight, purging of the food is viewed as a necessity. This is in contrast to binge eating disorder, which does not involve the purging of food after an excess of food consumption (Bulik et al., 2012). Furthermore, although bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa are similar in some respects, the two are in no way identical eating disorders. Patients with anorexia nervosa are generally underweight (Steinglass et al., 2013), whereas bulimia nervosa patients are not necessarily underweight, and are often at a normal body weight (Bulik et al., 2012).
There is no definite age of onset of bulimia nervosa, but it is typically seen in adolescent males and females (Smink et al., 2012). Bulimia nervosa is somewhat more prevalent in females than in males, with 1.3% of females suffering from bulimia nervosa (in a national sample), and .5% of males (Swanson et al., 2011).
Bulimia nervosa is associated with various symptoms, detailed by the American Psychiatric Association (2013) and the peer-reviewed literature. Three crucial features that define bulimia nervosa have been articulated (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). These are, firstly, the repeated indulgence in binge eating; secondly, resorting to compensatory ...
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Steinglass, J.E., Sysko, R., Glasofer, D., Albano, A.M., Simpson H.B., Walsh B.T. (2011). Rationale for the application of exposure and response prevention to the treatment of anorexia nervosa. The Internation Journal of Eating Disorders, 44(2), 134-141.
Swanson, S.A., Crow, S.J., Le Grange, D., Swendsen, J., Merikangas, K.R. (2011). Prevalence and correlates of eating disorders in adolescents. Results from the national comorbidity survey replication adolescent supplement. Archives of General Psychiatry, 68(7), 714-723.
Trace, S.E., Baker, J.H., Peñas-Lledó, E., Bulik, C.M. (2013). The genetics of eating disorders. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 9, 589-620.
Wilson, G.T., & Zandberg, L.J. (2012). Cognitive-behavioral guided self-help for eating disorders: effectiveness and scalability. Clinical Psychology Review, 32(4), 343-357.
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