Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia Nervosa Introduction
Bulimia nervosa is the episodic, uncontrolled binge eating of large quantities of food over a short period of time. It was originally described in the late 1950s as a pattern of behavior in some obese individuals. In the 1960s and early 1970s, it was recognized as a commonly associated feature of anorexia nervosa. Recently, it has been identified as a distinct disorder that occurs in persons of normal weight who are not obese and do not have anorexia nervosa. To establish the diagnosis of bulimia nervosa, the DSM-IV requires some form of compensatory behavior to prevent weight gain, such as purging. A number of normal-weight individuals engage in episodes of binge eating but do not engage in any compensatory behavior. The authors of DSM-IV elected not to include a separate diagnosis of binge eating disorder. However, the diagnostic and treatment considerations are the same for these individuals as for those who meet the full diagnostic criteria for bulimia nervosa.

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Revision date: June 22, 2011
Last revised: by Jorge P. Ribeiro, MD