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Treatment of bulimia usually involves behavioral therapy and nutritional counseling. Most eating disorders are not about food but about self-esteem and self-perception. Therapy is most effective when it concentrates on the issues that cause the behavior, rather than on the behavior itself. Individual therapy, combined with group therapy and family therapy, is often the most helpful. Group therapy, where people with the same disease get together and share their experiences with the guidance of a therapist, seems to work well for people with bulimia. Effective nutritional counseling for bulimia tends to focus on normalizing nutrition and eating habits. At times, healthy dieting with mild weight loss can sometimes be an effective part of treatment as well. Some people with bulimia benefit from emotional support groups or spirituality-based group therapy. Facilities and practitioners experienced in the treatment of eating disorders are recommended.
Since people with bulimia also often suffer from depression, anxiety, and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), treatment of those disorders, if present, with psychiatric medication may be appropriate in combination with counseling. People whose symptoms do not adequately improve with psychotherapy and education may also benefit from the addition of medications for treatment.
Any serious medical problem related to an eating disorder may require hospitalization. Electrolyte imbalances will be corrected and fluids will be given to rehydrate. IV nutrition may even be required. Even if immediate hospitalization isn't needed for medical treatment, the doctor may request an urgent referral to a psychiatric facility for evaluation.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/28/2016
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