Bulimia Nervosa affects about 1-3% of American women and .01-.03% of American men according to the American Psychiatric Association (2000).
The symptoms of Bulimia Nervosa according to the American Psychiatric Association are:
1. Recurrent episodes of binge eating. Binge eating is classified by eating a significantly larger amount of food within any 2-hour time frame than most people would eat in similar circumstances and time period. Binge eating is also classified as a sense of loss of control, feeling that one cannot stop eating, or that one does not have control over what or how much he or she eats.
2. Inappropriate compensatory behaviors in order to avoid gaining weight such as taking diuretics, fasting, excessively exercising, purposeful vomiting, or laxative abuse.
3. Binge eating and inappropriate compensatory behaviors (purging) occur together, on average at least two times a week for three months or longer.
4. Weight and shape significantly affect one's evaluation of himself or herself.
Purging type: During the current episode of Bulimia Nervosa, the compensatory behaviors include the misuse of laxatives, enemas, or purposeful vomiting.
Nonpurging type: During the current episode of Bulimia Nervosa, inappropriate compensatory behaviors include excessive exercise and/or fasting and the person does not regularly engage in the misuse of laxatives, diuretics, enemas, or self-induced vomiting.
Case example: Lauren is a 20-year old college sophomore. She has good grades, has lots of friends, and is outgoing. She gets together with her friends on Friday night to enjoy a movie. They often have pizza, ice cream, and other snacks when they watch the movie and afterwards when they catch up on that week's happenings.
What her friends don't know is that Lauren binges and makes herself vomit every night before she goes to bed. She does this after most of her dorm mates have gone to sleep so that no one will catch her vomiting in the bathroom.
Lauren's family have started to notice how awful her tooth look and the multiple scratches on her knuckles. When confronted about this, she just tells them that she knows she should take better care of her teeth. She makes up excuses for the scratches on her hands.
Lauren is suffering from Bulimia Nervosa and without medical and psychological help, the consequences of her mental condition could be fatal.