Bulimia DSM 5: The Latest Diagnostic Criteria for Bulimia

Bulimia DSM 5: The Latest Diagnostic Criteria for Bulimia

In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association released the DSM-5, also known as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. This is the fifth edition of this manual, and it includes a number of changes to the diagnostic criteria for mental disorders. One such disorder is bulimia nervosa. In this blog post, we will take a closer look at the Bulimia DSM-5, the new diagnostic criteria for bulimia nervosa.

Defining Bulimia

Defining BulimiaBulimia is an eating disorder that is characterized by episodes of bingeing and purging. Bingeing is defined as eating a large amount of food in a short period of time. And, purging is defined as getting rid of the food through vomiting or using laxatives.

Moreover, this condition is not only defined by what someone does, but also by how they feel. People with bulimia often feel out of control during a binge and use purging as a way to cope with the negative emotions that come along with it.

There are different types of bulimia, which are defined by the frequency and severity of symptoms. The three types are:

  • Bulimia nervosa (BN): This is the most common type of bulimia. People with BN experience episodes of bingeing and purging at least once a week.
  • Purging disorder (PD): People with PD purge after eating, but they don’t necessarily binge first.
  • Binge eating disorder (BED): This is the most severe type of bulimia. People with BED experience episodes of bingeing at least once a week and they don’t purge afterward.

These are some of the diagnostic criteria for bulimia according to the DSM-V. If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, please reach out for help. There are many resources available and recovery is possible.

What DSM 5 Says About Bulimia?

DSM 5 is the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. And it includes several changes to the criteria for diagnosing eating disorders. This manual defines bulimia as:

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

A. Eating, in a discrete period of time.

B. A sense of lack of control over eating during the episode.

The DSM-IV-TR required that bulimia occur at least twice a week for three months. But the DSM-V has lowered this to once a week for three months. This change was made because research has shown that bulimia can be just as severe. Even if it doesn’t occur as often.

The DSM-V also requires that the binge eating episodes must not be caused by another medical condition (e.g., pregnancy, use of certain medications). And they must not happen during periods of anorexia nervosa.

If you or someone you know is struggling with bulimia, please seek professional help. This disorder can be extremely harmful to one’s physical and mental health. And it is treatable. There are many resources available to those who need help.

What Are The DSM 5 Criteria For Bulimia?

What Are The DSM 5 Criteria For Bulimia?The diagnostic criteria for bulimia nervosa are really quite simple. According to the DSM-IV, a person must display the following behaviors:

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

  • Eating, in a discrete period of time (e.g., within any two-hour period), an amount of food that is definitely larger than what most people would eat during the same period of time and under similar circumstances.
  • 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).

Recurrent inappropriate compensatory behaviors in order to prevent weight gain. Such as:

  • self-induced vomiting
  • misuse of laxatives
  • diuretics
  • other medications
  • fasting
  • excessive exercise

The binge eating and the compensatory behaviors occur, on average, at least once a week for three months. It is important to note that the DSM-IV requires that these behaviors must not occur exclusively during episodes of anorexia nervosa.

There is no mention of BMI or any other specific numbers in the DSM-IV criteria for bulimia nervosa. This is because unlike anorexia nervosa, where weight and BMI are key diagnostic features, people with bulimia nervosa come in all shapes and sizes.

Diagnostic Tests For Bulimia DSM 5

If a professional suspects that you or someone you know may have bulimia nervosa, they will likely conduct a few of the tests to rule out any other potential causes for the behaviors. These may include:

Physical exam – This exam is about measuring your height, and weight and checking your vital signs. Also, a doctor may check your heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, and other things to rule out your physical health as a reason for your behaviors.

Laboratory tests – A doctor may want to check for an electrolyte imbalance, which can be caused by dehydration from purging. Also, they will likely want to do a complete blood count (CBC) and a thyroid test.

Psychological evaluation A therapist or a mental health professional will likely ask you questions about your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

So, these are the diagnostic criteria for bulimia nervosa according to the DSM-IV. If you or someone you know is displaying these behaviors, it is important to seek professional help. Bulimia nervosa is a serious eating disorder that can have many complications if left untreated.

What To Do Next?

What To Do Next?When you or a loved one is diagnosed with bulimia, it can be difficult to understand what to do next. So, here are some tips to help you get started:

Understand what bulimia is

It is the very first step in understanding the disease. Because in this way, you will be more likely to identify the warning signs early on and get the person’s help before things spiral out of control. There are several things through which you can get complete information about bulimia like books, the internet, and support groups.

Identify your triggers

When you know what causes your bulimic episodes, you can work on avoiding or coping with them. For some people, triggers may be linked to certain emotions like anxiety, boredom, sadness, and frustration. So, it is important to find healthy ways to cope with these emotions instead of using food as a way to numb yourself.

Build a support system

Coping with a mental illness is not an easy task and it is important to have a support system to lean on. This could be friends, family members, or a therapist. These people can offer you practical and emotional support when you need it the most. You need to understand that sharing your feelings is not a sign of weakness, but it is actually a strength.

Healthy coping mechanisms

Healthy coping is essential as it can help you deal with your triggers in a more constructive way. Some healthy coping mechanisms include:

These are some healthy ways that you should start incorporating into your life if you want to cope with bulimia in a better way. You need to remember that recovery is a journey and it will take time.

Start treatment

Start treatmentTreatment is an important step in recovery and it can vary from person to person. It is important to work with a mental health professional to create a treatment plan that is right for you. Because the goal of treatment is to help you stop your bingeing and purging behaviors, and to develop a healthier relationship with food.

Below is a detailed discussion of the treatment options for bulimia DSM 5. You should always remember that you are not alone in this battle and there is help available.

So, first, you should understand what bulimia is and then start working on incorporating healthy coping mechanisms into your life. And if you want to get better, don’t forget to start treatment as well.

How To Treat?

Just like any other mental illness or chronic condition, bulimia DSM-5 requires treatment. Treatment usually includes some combination of individual therapy, group therapy, and/or medication.

Let’s understand a little more about what each of these treatment options entails:

Individual Therapy

This type of therapy usually entails meeting with a therapist one-on-one. The therapist will help you understand your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors surrounding your eating. They will also work with you to develop healthy coping mechanisms and ways of thinking about food and your body.

In this, there are several different types of therapies that may be used, including:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): It focuses on helping you change the negative thoughts and beliefs that contribute to your disordered eating.

Interpersonal Therapy (IPT): This type of therapy focuses on helping you develop healthy relationships and communication skills.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): This is a type of CBT that also focuses on helping you develop healthy coping mechanisms. More often, for bulimia, DBT will involve learning how to deal with difficult emotions without turning to food.

Group Therapy

This type of therapy usually entails meeting with a group of people who are also struggling with bulimia. This can be a great way to feel less alone and to learn from others who are going through the same thing. In group therapy, you will likely be encouraged to share your experiences and feelings about bulimia. And that can be a helpful way to process what you’re going through.

You may also learn coping and problem-solving skills in group therapy that can help you in your journey to recovery. It provides a space for you to practice using these skills and to receive feedback from others in the group.


MedicationMedications for bulimia are antidepressants. The most common type of medication prescribed for bulimia is selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These medications can help reduce the symptoms of bulimia by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain. Some of the other medications that have been used to treat bulimia include:

  • tricyclic antidepressants
  • monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
  • antipsychotic medications.

It is important to note that medication is not a cure for bulimia and it will not magically make the symptoms of bulimia go away. But yes it is possible that medication can help reduce the symptoms of bulimia and make it easier to cope with the disorder.

If you are thinking about taking medication for bulimia, it is important to talk to your doctor about the potential risks and benefits. Some of the side effects of SSRIs include:

  • nausea
  • headaches
  • dizziness
  • dry mouth
  • increased anxiety
  • insomnia

Support Groups

It is important to realize that you are not alone in your struggle with bulimia. There are many people who have been through the same thing and come out the other side. Finding a support group can be a great way to get help and learn more about what you are going through.

There are many different types of support groups available, so it is important to find one that is right for you. There are groups that meet in person, as well as online groups. You may also want to consider a support group specifically for people with bulimia.

So these are some ways to get help if you are struggling with bulimia. If you think you may have bulimia, it is important to talk to someone about it. There is no shame in admitting that you need help. Remember, you are not alone in this.


To conclude, the DSM-V has changed the diagnostic criteria for bulimia nervosa in several ways. The most significant changes are the criterion for frequency of binging and purging. That has been lowered from twice a week to once a week. And that non-purging types of bulimia have been recognized as a separate disorders. These changes reflect current research and will help clinicians make more accurate diagnoses.

Moreover, bulimia DSM-5 gives more detail on the types of purging behaviors. And how they can be distinguished from binging episodes. This will help clinicians to better understand and treat their patients with bulimia nervosa.

You can also contact Mantra Care. The team of expert mental health professionals will provide you with guidance and support. Mantra Care provides mental health services around the globe at convenient and affordable prices. You can also book a therapy or download our free Android or iOS app.

In addition, Mantra Care has a registered dietitian to help you make the best food choices for your journey, as well as a team of highly qualified and certified personal trainers to help you recover from an eating disorder. Visit our website or give us a call today!

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