Bulimia: Treatment

Psychotherapeutic: Behavioral management is the first-line treatment for bulimia—professionals will address the dangerous and worrying purging behavior and ensure that a patient is healthy before moving on to more long-lasting interventions.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is employed to alter body image and eating habits by teaching patients how their thoughts turn into unwanted, even disturbing feelings and actions. CBT is effective in 50 to 60% of those treated. Interpersonal therapy, which focuses on how the child’s relationships with others impact her feelings and actions, is also employed.

Pharmacological: If behavioral therapy does not yield the desired results, antidepressant medications—particularly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs—can have positive results.

In addition, nutrition education may be necessary to convince someone with bulimia of the disastrous effects of her disorder, and may help her amend her behavior.