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Bulimia Nervosa Symptoms of Bulimia

Symptoms of bulimia nervosa had been discussed as long as medical records have existed; before its definition by the World Health Organization, it was seen as a gastric disorder. One case report of a young woman with bulimia nervosa was published by a Swiss psychiatrist in 1944; however, he had diagnosed schizophrenia. Bulimia nervosa was named by Dr Gerald Russell (a British psychiatrist)in 1979. He reported on 30 patients he had treated who displayed an uncontrolled desire to overeat, practised self-induced vomiting or used laxatives, partook in excessive exercise and had concerns regarding bodyweight and size. It was termed ‘bulimia nervosa’ as it was felt to be related to anorexia nervosa. A literal translation of ‘bulimia nervosa’ means‘hunger of an ox’. The term ‘bulimia’ refers to episodes of uncontrolled eating known as ‘binges’. Some people (up to 30%) with anorexia nervosa go on to develop bulimia nervosa. Similarly to anorexia nervosa, the person may initially be on a diet to lose weight. Unlike anorexia nervosa, the person with bulimia nervosa has normal weight. Therefore, it may be several years before it isevident that the person has features of this disorder. Symptoms of depression are also more common in people with bulimia nervosa.

Bulimia nervosa usually affects 1–2% of women, usually in their mid-adolescence and early 20s, although bulimia nervosa can present in people up to 40 years old(. Unlike anorexia nervosa, people with bulimia nervosa come from a range of social classes, age groups and ethnic backgrounds.

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