Clinical Features of Bulimia Nervosa
CLINICAL FEATURES AND/OR OBSERVABLE BEHAVIOURS
The following are observable behaviours that indicate that Bulimia Nervosa may be present. Please remember never to diagnose yourself or someone else! Always speak to a professional specialised in diagnosing and working with eating disorders.
1. There is a sense of lack of control during binge sessions: While eating and then purging, it is common to feel very emotionally out of control. In contrast, the person with Anorexia Nervosa denies feelings of being out of control.
2. Vomiting temporarily decreases abdominal bloating so that bingeing can continue without any weight gain. This cycle may continue for hours over a whole day.
3. Depression often follows after a binge-purge session: The nature of the depression is often quite severe. Purging affects the serotonin levels (a chemical which affects one’s moods), in that there is a temporary change which can leave you feeling temporarily euphoric. After the serotonin wears off, depression will again surface and the cycle then starts all over again.
4. There is often a tendency to eat sweets and high caloric value foods.
5. Food is eaten secretly, rapidly and sometimes not chewed.
6. The weight range: Most people with Bulimia Nervosa are in the normal weight range; some people are under or over weight.
7. Sexual interest. Usually individuals with Bulimia Nervosa have an interest in sex. This is different for the person with Anorexia Nervosa who has no or a limited interest in sex.
8. Body size: As with the person with Anorexia Nervosa there is an obsession with body size.
9. There is a tendency to prepare and hoard food: There may be a trend to not eat but to feed others. For example, there may be a keen interest in cooking and/or baking or collecting recipes but the individual may not eat what has been cooked or baked.
Some examples of compulsive behaviours include perfectionism, extreme orderliness and excessive hand washing. Remember that only when behaviour becomes so extreme that it interferes with a person’s daily routine, is it classified as pathological or disordered. Being neat, having standards, etc in a moderate fashion is not pathological.