Bulimia Nervosa is a potentially life-threatening eating disorder that can stem from a wide variety of factors, ranging from genetics to family and societal pressures. Bulimia Nervosa can involve cycles of binging and purging, and tends to affect young females the most. However, all individuals are susceptible to developing Bulimia Nervosa regardless of gender, age, or ethnicity. Studies have shown that Bulimia Nervosa can even have debilitating effects on individuals below the age of fifteen years.
The diagnosis of Bulimia Nervosa begins with questions asked by a health care professional regarding an individual’s symptoms. If a health care provider suspects that an individual has Bulimia Nervosa, a psychological evaluation may be necessary in order to establish an accurate diagnosis. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association in 2013, requires a diagnosis of Bulimia Nervosa to include recurrent episodes of binging and purging within a discrete period of time. The DSM-5 also states that an individual with Bulimia Nervosa generally feels a lack of control during a binging episode. Furthermore, individuals with Bulimia Nervosa normally participate in cycles of binging and purging at least once a week within a three month time period. The severity of diagnosis for Bulimia Nervosa is dependent on the number of times a week that the individual purges.
A diagnosis for Bulimia Nervosa may also involve a physical exam conducted by a licensed health care provider. Results indicative of Bulimia Nervosa might show signs like broken blood vessels in the eyes due to persistent vomiting, dryness of the mouth, rashes, acne, and/or electrolyte imbalances. In addition to a complete physical exam, a health care provider may perform blood and urine tests to check for abnormalities such as hypokalemia, which can result from recurrent cycles of binging and purging.
Even if an individual does not meet the aforementioned criteria, they should still consult a health care professional if they exhibit any eating disorder symptoms.
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