There are various forms of treatment to manage bulimia nervosa. Here are options that can help you recover.
Bulimia nervosa, frequently referred to as bulimia, is an eating disorder in which people feel out of control and sense an inability to stop.
People with bulimia eat a large amount of food in a short time, regardless if they’re hungry. This excessive eating is also known as binge eating.
People also use compensatory behaviors, such as self-induced vomiting, fasting, excessive exercise, or misuse of diuretics, laxatives, or enemas, as a way to control their weight.
Amid the pandemic, more people are experiencing an increase in their bulimia symptoms. But there are many options for bulimia treatment to help get you on the road to recovery.
Technology allows access to medical care right at home. You can speak with a healthcare professional from your phone to get the treatment that can help reduce distress and improve your quality of life.
If you believe you have bulimia, your primary care doctor can offer support and assistance. When you visit a healthcare professional, they’ll perform a physical exam and lab testing to ensure you’re in good health.
A professional will review your medical history to monitor excessive changes in weight, and they might ask you about your daily eating and exercise habits. Also, they’ll listen to you and make the appropriate diagnosis.
Your medical professional will also check for or rule out other mental health disorders, such as:
In terms of which treatment option is best, psychotherapy is proven very effective in treating bulimia.
A recent study surveyed 55 patients with bulimia to gauge the psychological impact COVID-19 has had on their health. Results showed that
The pandemic has also meant that many people cannot engage in activities that fuel their recovery, such as exercise or being with loved ones.
Multiple types of therapy are available to help treat bulimia:
Cognitive behavioral therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be effective for treating eating disorders.
CBT involves talking with a mental health professional about your fears and personal behaviors while learning to solve problems and help manage your symptoms. For example, CBT can help you recognize and challenge unhelpful thoughts.
With nutrition therapy, a registered dietitian will help you:
- develop meal plans
- find what’s best to eat and what to avoid
- create better feelings about food in general
Other goals of nutrition therapy include:
- weight management
- proper portion control
- maintaining a healthy balanced diet
Dialectical behavior therapy
Originally meant to treat borderline personality disorder, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) has proven effective for bulimia therapy.
DBT teaches self-acceptance and supports behavioral changes. You’ll see this therapy practice in individual and group therapy settings with impressive results.
Medication is a treatment option for bulimia but isn’t generally enough to curb symptoms. However, therapy and medication work well together and will put you in the best place for recovery.
A medical professional may recommend an antidepressant medication to care for your bulimia symptoms.
According to the American Addiction Centers, the antidepressant Prozac is the only bulimia nervosa medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The drug works by improving the amount of serotonin in your body to help mood regulation.
If you experience severe bulimia, you may need hospitalization to help heal your body and mind. Eating disorder clinics are specifically designed to help people learn to manage eating disorders.
Within the clinics, there are four levels of care based on your symptoms, all used in the management of bulimia:
- Intensive outpatient programs: Weekly individual and group therapy programs
- Partial hospitalization: Medical professionals monitor your symptoms more closely while offering support for your medical and psychological health
- Residential programs: Available for those who don’t respond to outpatient or partial hospitalization
- Inpatient care: Provides acute psychological and medical care for those with severe symptoms, or who are in danger of hurting themselves or others
Bulimia can affect your body. A part of self-care is participating in preventive care and routine check-ups with a medical professional. They can monitor your labs, symptoms and offer a plan of care on your road to recovery.
There are also steps you can take for bulimia treatment at home. Another part of self-care is looking at what triggers your symptoms and avoiding those triggers when possible.
For example, you may need to reduce social media use or avoid it altogether to break from seeing unrealistic body types. Also, a dietitian might recommend you follow a balanced diet and regular exercise routine.
Meditation may help those in recovery from an eating disorder. Meditation can lessen the anxiety and stress caused by your symptoms as you learn to calm your mind and relax.
Also, meditation teaches you coping mechanisms to handle stressful situations and how to reframe negative thoughts.
There may not be a cure for bulimia nervosa, but you can live a happy and healthy life again. By seeking the support of others, medical professionals, and loved ones, you can recover.
Consider reaching out to a primary care doctor to assess your health. They can offer referrals to someone who specializes in eating disorders. Together, you can decide on a treatment plan that is best for you and your needs.
If you feel lost or you’re not sure where to turn, the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) is available online or via phone to help today.