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How to Overcome Bulimia Nervosa

Learn how to overcome the eating disorder bulimia nervosa from Allegra Broft, M.D. in this Howcast video about eating disorders.


Fortunately there are some very good treatments for bulimia nervosa, and I'll tell you about some of those in a second, but as with other types of eating problems, the most important first step is to try to find your way into some type of treatment, usually by consultation with a treatment center that specializes in eating disorder problems, or with another type of professional, a mental health professional that has expertise in these types of problems.

We have good scientific evidence from clinical studies of certain types of treatments being particularly effective. So for bulimia nervosa, we have good evidence that a specific type of psychotherapy called cognitive behavioral therapy can be very effective for helping binge eating problems, and the purging problems that go along with bulimia nervosa reduce in frequency. So cognitive behavioral therapy, just to say a little bit about it, is a time-limited treatment, one of the very nice things about cognitive behavioral therapy, it's not an open-ended, you don't sort of, you know, expect the therapy to go on ad infinitum, it's really meant to be 12 to 20 sessions over six months. And the therapy is very here and now, so it's less going into the deep, dark recesses of your past, although it may touch on some of that material, and more about here and now strategies to help stabilize eating and specific, just sort of behavioral tips and strategies for reducing the frequency of binge eating behavior and purging behavior, and stabilizing the eating over the course of the day. Later on in treatment, in the more cognitive phase of cognitive behavioral therapy, cognitions and types of thinking styles that keep certain types of thoughts about shape and weight, certain types of tendencies in eating alive, cognitive therapy will try to address some of those types of cognitive styles.

There are also medications that have been shown to have good efficacy for bulimia nervosa as well, and just to briefly give some examples, certain anti-depressant medications like SSRI anti-depressants can be very effective. A medicine called Fluoxetine, or Prozac in particular, can be helpful at high doses, and there are some other medications besides anti-depressants that can also be of help.

Whatever the case, consulting a professional or a treatment center can help you develop a treatment plan that's going to work best with you. Bringing on other professionals, like a nutritionist, can also be of great help in overcoming bulimia nervosa.

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