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Bulimia Nervosa

Obesity and Eating Disorder & Centre

Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by binge eating and purging, or consuming a large amount of food in a short amount of time followed by an attempt to rid oneself of the food consumed (purging), typically by vomiting, taking a laxative, diuretic, or stimulant, and/or excessive exercise, because of an extensive concern for body weight.

The term bulimia comes from Greek βουλιμία (boulīmia; ravenous hunger), a compound of βους (bous), ox + λιμός (līmos), hunger; literally, bulimia nervosa means disease of hunger affecting the nervous system. Bulimia nervosa was named and first described by the British psychiatrist Gerald Russell in 1979.

Some individuals may tend to alternate between bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa. Bulimia is also commonly accompanied with fasting over an extended period of time. These dangerous, habit-forming practices occur while the sufferer is trying to keep their weight under a self-imposed threshold. It can lead to potassium loss and health deterioration, with depressive symptoms that are often severe and lead to a high risk of suicide.Bulimia nervosa is considered to be less life threatening than anorexia; however, the occurrence of bulimia nervosa is higher.Bulimia nervosa is nine times more likely to occur in women than men. Up to 1% of women have bulimia nervosa.

The majority of those with bulimia nervosa are at normal weight. Antidepressants, especially SSRIs, are widely used in the treatment of bulimia nervosa.

Bulimia is strongly familial. Twin studies estimate the heritability of syndromic bulimia to be 54–83%.

Many individuals with bulimia nervosa also have an additional psychiatric disorder. Common comorbidities are mood disorders, anxiety, impulse control, and substance-misuse disorders. Patients with bulimia nervosa often have impulsive behaviors involving overspending and sexual behaviors as well as having family histories of alcohol and substance abuse, mood and eating disorders.


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