Diagnosing bulimia 

If you have an eating disorder such as bulimia, the first step is to recognise that you have a problem and visit your GP. You may think it is not serious, but bulimia can damage your long-term health.

Accepting that you need help and support is the first step to recovery, but this may be a very difficult step for you to take. Most people who have bulimia hide their situation for months or years before seeking help. It can often take a change of situation, such as the start of a new relationship or living with new people, to make a person with bulimia want to seek help.

It may help to make a list of questions you want to ask before you see your GP. Once you have explained your situation to your GP, they will decide whether to refer you to a specialist mental health team.

Your local team will include:

  • specialist counsellors
  • psychiatrists
  • psychologists
  • nurses
  • dietitians
  • other healthcare professionals

Your treatment depends on how serious your condition is and the best way to manage it. Your GP may recommend a self-help programme to start your recovery before referring you for specialist treatment.

You can make a full recovery from bulimia. The earlier you start treatment, the quicker the recovery process will be.

Do I have an eating disorder?

Doctors sometimes use a questionnaire called the SCOFF questionnaire to help recognise people who may have an eating disorder. This involves answering the following five questions:

  • Scoff: Do you ever make yourself vomit because you feel uncomfortably full?
  • Control: Do you worry you have lost control over how much you eat?
  • One stone: Have you recently lost more than one stone (six kilograms) in a three-month period?
  • Fat: Do you believe yourself to be fat when others say you are too thin?
  • Food: Would you say that food dominates your life?

If you answer “yes” to two or more of these questions, you may have an eating disorder.

Page last reviewed: 12/08/2014

Next review due: 12/08/2017