Facebook Pixel

Diagnosis of bulimia nervosa

June 10, 2008 - 7:30am
Rate This

Diagnosis of bulimia nervosa

According to the American Psychiatric Association, a person diagnosed as bulimic must have all of the disorder's specific symptoms:

  • recurrent episodes of binge eating (minimum average of two binge-eating episodes a week for at least three months)
  • a feeling of lack of control over eating during the binges
  • regular use of one or more of the following to prevent weight gain: self-induced vomiting, use of laxatives or diuretics, strict dieting or fasting, or vigorous exercise
  • persistent over-concern with body shape and weight.

When a problem is identified, medical attention should be sought immediately.  The doctor will take a complete medical history and conduct a physical exam.  Laboratory blood studies, including measurement of electrolyte levels, will be ordered as well.   The doctor will ask about eating patterns, looking for such behavior as:

  • repeated short episodes of binge eating followed by self- induced vomiting or use of laxatives
  • alternate fasting and binging
  • secret eating and binging
  • exercising excessively to prevent weight gain.

Once the diagnosis is made, early treatment is vital.


Adapted from Food & Drug Administration, 3/00

Last reviewed March 2000 by EBSCO Publishing Editorial Staff

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Bulimia Nervosa

Get Email Updates

Bulimia Nervosa Guide

HERWriter Guide

Have a question? We're here to help. Ask the Community.


Health Newsletter

Receive the latest and greatest in women's health and wellness from EmpowHER - for free!