Bulimia Nervosa is a potentially debilitating eating disorder where individuals participate in cycles of compulsive binging and purging in order to lose weight. Because Bulimia Nervosa can be considered a mental health disorder, individuals with Bulimia Nervosa often overvalue the concept of being thin and can develop a phobia of weight gain.
According to the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), a medical diagnosis of Bulimia Nervosa involves a wide variety of signs and symptoms. In order for an individual to be diagnosed with Bulimia Nervosa, they need to participate in recurrent episodes of binge eating. These regular episodes of binge eating need to fit two criteria: 1. the binging should occur within a discrete amount of time and 2. The individual should feel a lack of control over such episodes. An individual with Bulimia Nervosa might find themselves often eating until the point of discomfort on a regular basis and then forcibly vomiting out of fear of gaining weight.
A common sign and symptom of Bulimia Nervosa is when an individual undergoes recurrent purging behaviors after binging in order to avoid weight gain. These weight prevention behaviors are not always exclusive to purging. For example, excessive exercise and misuse of diuretics can also be considered a component of Bulimia Nervosa. These behaviors are thought to stem from preoccupations with body shape and weight, which can lead to inappropriate usage of laxatives or enemas after an episode of binging.
Other signs and symptoms of Bulimia Nervosa include swelling of the throat due to purging behaviors, irregular heartbeat, lack of or irregular menstruation in females, and progression of psychological disorders such as anxiety or depression. Bulimia Nervosa, which is more commonly found in young women, can generate menstrual cycle irregularity. Studies have demonstrated that high frequencies of vomiting, low thyroxine concentrations, and low dietary fat intake were each associated with irregular menses. The depression-like symptoms and fluctuations in body weight that can accompany Bulimia Nervosa are often visible, and have the potential to act as metabolic stresses on the body.
If an individual thinks that they or a loved one has the signs and symptoms of Bulimia Nervosa, it is imperative to seek the help of a healthcare professional as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment for Bulimia Nervosa can lead to a better overall prognosis for the individual.
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