Bulimia Nervosa Treatment
Bulimia nervosa treatment includes therapy and medication, but in extreme cases if the patient's health is at risk, hospitalisation may be necessary.
A patient's GP will decide on the best course of treatment to take based on the severity of the bulimia. Here are some of the main treatments for bulimia nervosa:
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy - Cognitive behavioural therapy is a type of psychotherapy, in which a bulimia sufferer has regular discussions about their problem behaviours with a therapist. The discussions will address the negative thoughts the person has about their weight and body shape, along with other reasons for bingeing and purging. They will then learn to recognise, understand and manage the situations that trigger these behaviours, and develop more positive ways of thinking. Cognitive behavioural therapy will help an individual to get back to a normal lifestyle by breaking the cycle of bingeing and purging and encouraging healthier eating patterns.
Interpersonal Therapy - Rather than focus on the bulimic behaviours themselves, interpersonal therapy deals with a person's relationships with other people in order to identify and change interpersonal problems that are associated with the bulimia. The aim is to help build relationships that are supportive instead of turning to bingeing and purging for emotional comfort.
Self-help Programme - A self-help programme uses the same techniques therapists use in cognitive behavioural therapy, but is self-taught by the individual in their own time. Additional support and guidance should be offered as they work through the programme. As with cognitive behavioural therapy, the aim of the programme is to change negative thoughts into more positive ones with the effect of changing problem behaviours.
Family Therapy - The individual attends therapy sessions with their family. The support of the family can help the person have confidence in themselves and help aid recovery from their eating disorder.
Group Therapy - Group therapy sessions are usually run by a therapist, and are attended by individuals with bulimia. Some people find great comfort and support from attending therapy sessions with other bulimics and are encouraged to beat their eating disorder. It is important that group therapy sessions encourage recovery rather than the bulimic behaviours themselves.
Medications - Antidepressants can sometimes be helpful in the short-term as a treatment for bulimia. However, these will not address the underlying causes of bulimic behaviours and probably should not be considered as a long-term treatment for bulimia. They can also have side effects. It can take several weeks before antidepressants start to work.
Lapses and relapses may occur during the recovery process, but there is a good chance sufferers of bulimia will eventually be able to lead a normal life.