Diabulimia is not an official eating disorder diagnosis or a medically recognized term. It is a descriptive term used widely in popular culture for an observed behavior.
While the term itself is inaccurate, "diabulimia" underscores a real and very serious pattern of disordered eating.
Clinical signs and symptoms of diabulimia for type 1 diabetics include:
- Weight loss
- Growth failure in adolescents
- Poor blood-glucose control (especially if the individual had good control previously)
- Recurrent episodes of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA); marked by polydipsia (excessive thirst), polyuria (frequent urination) and/or polyphagia (increased hunger)
- Severe recurrent episodes of hypoglycemia
- Higher than usual hemoglobin A1c levels (despite good blood sugar records, which may be falsified by the individual)
- Microvascular disease affecting the eyes, kidneys and heart
- Peripheral neuropathy (weakness, numbness and/or pain in hands and feet)
- Secrecy, abnormal behaviors or rituals around insulin administration
- Disordered eating, including restriction, binge eating, refusal to eat in the presence of others, obsession with weight, body image, exercise and/or food
- Depressed mood, social withdrawal and/or deterioration of school or work performance.
Seek help immediately if you see symptoms of diabulimia
Manipulating insulin can be life-threatening for type 1 diabetics. When one seeks treatment for diabulimia, medical stabilization will be a priority, followed by the care of a multidisciplinary team experienced in the treatment and management of diabulimia.
If you are seeking help for diabulimia, please call us at 877-825-8584 to speak with one of our Masters-level clinicians.
At our eating disorder treatment center, we can help you take immediate steps towards a full recovery from diabulimia.