Events since 1980

Events gathered pace in the 1980s. In 1980 a syndrome termed 'bulimia' was included in DSM-III.(2) This was intended to denote the type of patient that Russell had described, although its diagnostic criteria proved to be overly inclusive. In 1987, the criteria were refined and brought more in line with Russell's original concept. The syndrome was also renamed bulimia nervosa.(3) Also in the early 1980s evidence mounted that bulimia nervosa might be common and this led to a spate of studies of its prevalence. At the same time reports were published describing the successful treatment of these patients, the two most promising approaches being a specific form of cognitive-behavioural therapy and the use of antidepressant drugs. By the mid-1980s, both treatments had been tested in the first of what has become a large series of controlled trials.

Now, two decades later, the diagnosis bulimia nervosa is included in both DSM-IV(4) and ICD-10,(5) its prevalence is established, aspects of its aetiology are beginning to be understood, and much has been learned about its treatment.

Breaking Bulimia

Breaking Bulimia

We have all been there: turning to the refrigerator if feeling lonely or bored or indulging in seconds or thirds if strained. But if you suffer from bulimia, the from time to time urge to overeat is more like an obsession.

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