Bulimia is a type of eating disorder that is characterized by recurring episodes of binging and purging. During a binge, a person dealing with bulimia may consume an abnormally large quantity of food over a short time period. This usually leads to physical, emotional, and psychological discomfort.
The combination of several different factors may spark the development of bulimia, including biological predisposition, exposure to trauma, abuse, environmental stressors, cultural influences and more. Research shows the lifetime prevalence of bulimia among women at about 1.5% and men at .5% in the United States alone . A person can be affected by bulimia regardless of their gender, age, cultural background, or socioeconomic status.
Because of the shame that is often experienced with bulimia, a person who is struggling may not be willing to discuss the issues they may be facing as a result of this eating disorder. The signs and symptoms of bulimia may vary based on the individual, the severity of the eating disorder, and whether or not there are other coexisting psychiatric illnesses present.
: Smink, F. R. E., van Hoeken, D., & Hoek, H. W. (2012). Epidemiology of Eating Disorders: Incidence, Prevalence and Mortality Rates. Current Psychiatry Reports, 14(4), 406–414. doi:10.1007/s11920-012-0282