What are the treatment options for bulimia nervosa?

Treatment for bulimia nervosa usually includes a combination of methods. It also usually involves a variety of different specialists. A combination of psychotherapy and antidepressants has been shown to be the most effective in treating this condition.
Types of treatment methods that may be used for bulimia nervosa include:
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): This is a type of psychotherapy that helps people identify their unhealthy, and negative thought patterns and behaviors in order to learn to cope with them and change them into more positive thoughts and habits. 
  • Family therapy: This is especially important in teenage patients who still live at home. Family therapy helps parents learn how to intervene to help stop their child’s behavior. It also helps families deal with the stress and problems associated with having a family member with bulimia nervosa. 
  • Interpersonal psychotherapy: This helps people improve their communication and social skills. It also helps people identify and work through any problems with close relationships they may be having.
  • Antidepressants: These medications help to reduce some of the psychological symptoms associated with bulimia especially if one is suffering from a comorbid disorder such as depression or anxiety
  • Nutrition and weight education: This can help to teach people with bulimia nervosa about how to obtain a healthy weight and the importance of a balanced diet. It can help them learn good eating habits and nutrition. 
  • Hospitalization: In many cases, bulimia can be treated on an outpatient basis. However, hospitalization may be required to treat any complications associated with the condition. In severe cases, people with bulimia nervosa may need to receive treatment for their disorder in a hospital. 
bulimia nervosa treatment

  • "Bulimia nervosa." Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 23 Aug. 2017. Web. 24 Aug. 2017.
  • "Bulimia Nervosa.” | Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library. Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library, n.d. Web. 24 Aug. 2017.
  • “Bulimia Nervosa.” The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. Cleveland Clinic, 04 Mar. 2014. Web. 24 Aug. 2017. 


From Our Blog: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy vs. Dialectical Behavior Therapy 
CBT and DBT are two forms of psychotherapy (“talk therapy”). In both, you work with a mental health professional to learn more about the challenges you experience and learn skills to help you manage those challenges on your own. As with many forms of psychotherapy, it takes time and effort to enjoy the benefits of DBT and CBT skills. But once people master skills with support from their CBT or DBT therapist, they often find their new skills and strategies become second nature- they are tools that last a lifetime!  Check out this infographic for an overview of the differences between CBT and DBT:
cognitive behavioral therapy vs. dialectical behavior therapy infographic


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