'Bulimia' means 'the hunger of an Ox' and 'nervosa' refers to the characteristic fear that also accompanies Anorexia Nervosa.
I find BN harder to describe than AN, and it seems harder to find literature on this illness. Perhaps this is because in comparison to AN, it has only recently been established as a recognisable disorder. Again, I think some people are predisposed to it, and the triggers can be the same as that for AN (see the page on AN). However, because these people are genitically wired in favour of bulimia, they do not develop AN. In others, it seems that the person is predisposed to both, so the bulimia may develop into AN, and visa versa.
People suffering from bulimia*:
- Have a morbid fear of becoming fat.
- Are usually either a normal healthy weight, or overweight (it is unclear to me whether someone with all the below symptoms but who meets the weight criteria for AN, is Bulimic, or has Anorexia Nervosa binge/purging sub-type?)
- Have episodic eating binges anywhere between twice a week and many times a day.
- The eating binges will result in compensatory behaviour such as; vomiting (even though this only gets rid of about half of the food), abusing laxatives (which drains water weight which will return but doesn't dicard of any calories), exessive excerisizing, or fasting.
A binge is defined by:
- Eating a quantity of food which is more than a healthy person would consider to be a normal amount for one sitting of up to two hours. I.e. A normal amount would usually be a meal of around 500-700 calories, perhaps up to 1500 if it is a special occasion.
- A sense of fear and loss of control during the binge.
- A sense of deep disgust and self loathing after the binge.
* Criteria paraphrased from the DSM IV