Do I have bulimia?

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If you have ever asked yourself Do I have bulimia? or am I bulimic?  then you almost certainly have some kind of eating disorder. Whether you could be diagnosed with having Bulimia really depends on if you meet the specific “diagnostic criteria”.

The term “diagnostic criteria” basically just refers to a list of traits and behaviours that doctors, psychologists or psychiatrists use in order to label or name an eating disorder.

What is the diagnostic criteria for Bulimia?

Take a look at the official diagnostic criteria for Bulimia below. If you can identify with each point then it is likely that you do have Bulimia.

DSM-IV Diagnostic Criteria for Bulimia

A. Recurrent episodes of binge eating. An episode of binge eating is characterized by both of the following:

  1. Eating, in a discrete period of time (e.g., within any 2-hour period), an amount of food that is definitely larger than most people would eat during a similar period of time and under similar circumstances.
  2. A sense of lack of control over eating during the episode (e.g., a feeling that one cannot stop eating or control what or how much one is eating).

B. Recurrent inappropriate compensatory behavior in order to prevent weight gain, such as self-induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives, diuretics, enemas, or other medications; fasting, or excessive exercise.

C. The binge eating and inappropriate compensatory behaviors occur, on average, at least twice a week for three months.

D. Self-evaluation is unduly influenced by body shape and weight.

E. The disturbance does not occur exclusively during episodes of Anorexia Nervosa


What if I meet some but not all of the diagnostic criteria for Bulimia?

When someone with disordered eating patterns or behaviours does not meet all of the diagnostic  criteria for Bulimia or any other specific eating disorder then they can be given a diagnosis of "EDNOS".

"EDNOS" is an abbreviation of the term “Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified”

Still a little bit confused by the difference? Here are two examples of when you could be diagnosed with EDNOS rather than Bulimia that will hopefully help you to understand a little better: 

  1. If you experience episodes of bingeing and purging but don’t experience those episodes frequently enough to warrant a diagnosis of Bulimia then you would be diagnosed with EDNOS.
  2. If you experience frequent episodes of purging but do not usually experience episodes of bingeing then you would be diagnosed with EDNOS.

It’s very important to remember that Bulimia is just a label, it’s a name that we use to describe specific eating disordered behaviours.

Whether you fit the criteria for Bulimia or not, it is important to remember all eating disorders can be life threatening and are certainly life debilitating.

Know that you deserve help and support and please don’t be disheartened or put off from seeking help.

Can Bulimia Help still support me through recovery if I don't meet all of the criteria for Bulimia?

Yes, if you identify with some of the behaviours associated with Bulimia such as bingeing or purging then you still could benefit from becoming a member and exploring our Bulimia Recovery System BRS® regardless of whether you meet the full criteria for a Bulimia Diagnosis.

The BRS® contains a wealth of knowledge and step by step guides relating to understanding and overcoming bingeing, understanding and stopping purging, boosting self esteem, dealing with anxiety provoking thoughts and much more.

If you're not already a member of Bulimia Help and are interested in finding out more about what we do then remember to check out our Home Page to see what it's all about!


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The information provided in this website is for information purposes only. The information on this website is NOT a substitute for proper diagnosis, treatment or the provision of advice by an appropriate health professional. Please refer to the full disclaimer and copyright. If you do think you might suffer from an eating disorder, it is important that you talk to your General Practitioner, as there are many physical complications that can arise from being at an unhealthily low weight or from losing weight very quickly, or from purging. We advise you to seek professional help with working on an eating disorder.


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