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Treatment and Self Help Strategies for Bulimia Nervosa

Treatment for Bulimia Nervosa (BN)

One needs different types of treatment when they have Bulimia Nervosa (BN). Combination of psychotherapy or talk therapy with anti-depressants can be effective for such disorders. The treatment involves everyone such as the patient, their primary care doctor, patient’s family and other medical provider, such as dietitian, mental health provider who are experienced in treating various disorders. Patient may get a case manager to synchronize and coordinate their care.

Treatment for Bulimia Nervosa (BN)

Medications to Treat Bulimia Nervosa (BN):

Anti-depressants along with the psychotherapy can help you to reduce bulimia nervosa symptoms. The antidepressant that is approved for treating the bulimia by the Food and Drug Administration is Prozac (fluoxetine), it is a type of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), it will also help even if the patient is not depressed.

Psychotherapy Treatment for Bulimia Nervosa (BN):

Psychotherapy is about talking about your bulimia and other issues with the mental health provider. Psychotherapy is also referred as psychosocial therapy, counseling or talk therapy. Below is evidence that Psychotherapy is effective for treating bulimia:

  • The Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for Bulimia Nervosa will help you to identify negative beliefs, behavior, unhealthy nature and turn it into a positive one.
  • Interpersonal psychotherapy will focus on the issues related to your close relationship and helps to improve the problem solving skills and relationships.
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) will help you to tolerate stress by learning behavioral skills. It helps to improve your relationship with others.
  • Family-based treatments helps parents to interfere and stop their children’s unearthly eating behavior and further helps the teenager to regain control over her or his eating habits.

Nutrition Training to Treat Bulimia Nervosa (BN):

The focus of the treatment will be to get you back to a healthy weight if you are underweight because of bulimia nervosa. Your dietitian and health provider will design a plan for you which will help you to achieve a healthy weight. You can be benefited from the medically supervised weight-loss program if you have binge-eating disorder.

It is possible to treat the Bulimia outside hospital. If there are any serious complications then the hospital is must. Some of the eating disorder programs provide day treatment.

Recovery from Bulimia Nervosa (BN)

Most of the people recover from bulimia nervosa but some symptoms don’t go away entirely. If you cannot get over the binge-purge cycle, then you need a poster session from the health care provider. They’ll help you to learn positive way to cope up, managing stress and creating healthy relationships.

Self Help Strategies for Bulimia Nervosa (BN)

Bulimia Nervosa Self Help Strategy 1: One should understand that bulimia nervosa is not about food. Its treatment makes use of food to cope with the painful emotions such as fear, anger, self-loathing and vulnerability. Through it you will learn to cope with the negative emotions.

Initially, determine what is eating you up inside. If you feel unattractive or overweight then stop thinking about it. Are you lonely? Stressed out? Depressed or upset about something? Once you understand what the problem is then you can choose a positive alternative to it. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

  • Spend time in nature
  • Maintain a journal
  • Take a walk
  • Read a good book
  • Play with your pets
  • Listen to music
  • Talk to a close friend
  • Join local volunteering activities.

Bulimia Nervosa Self Help Strategy 2: When you look at yourself on physical appearance only then you are ignoring other qualities within you. You should think about your friends and family members. Do they like you for who you are or how you look? There are chances that appearance is on the last rank of the list and even you might have similar feelings for them. So is it bothering you? The reason for low self-esteem and insecurity is that you give importance to how you look. You can learn to look at yourself in a positive way:

  • Make a note of your positive qualities. Think about things you love about yourself. Are you funny? Loyal? Creative? Kind? Smart? What according to others is best about you? Include all your achievements, talent and skill in the list. Make a list of your positive qualities. Think of all the things you like about yourself.
  • Concentrate on things that you like about your body. It is better if you search for goodness rather than flaws in yourself. If you think that you are not perfect then remember that nobody is perfect.
  • When you identify a situation where you are talking or thinking negatively about yourself, stop your thoughts and challenge it. Remember, just because you believe something then it does not make it true.

Bulimia Nervosa Strategy 3: Managing healthy habits is essential in the treatment of bulimia.

  • Follow a regular eating timetable. You might be habitual too fast for a long time, but starving makes you think about food all time. In order to get out of this, plan to eat every three hours. Do not skip any meal.
  • You should challenge rules related to food. Eating fuels bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa and should be changed with the healthy ones. If you are fond of eating dessert after every meal, you should restrict yourself and say that “I won’t eat dessert after every meal”.
  • You should not diet, it is better to eat healthy. It is an essential part of avoiding weight gain. Food is fuel for your body; you have to consume it for proper functioning of the body.

Avoiding Recurrence of Bulimia Nervosa (BN)

Once you have adopted the healthy eating habits, do not stop after the treatment is done. You should concentrate on maintaining your progress and prevent any re-occurrences of Bulimia Nervosa.

  • Make your life happy with positive activities. Enjoy activities that make you happy and give positive vibes. Do something that you always wanted to do, also develop new bulimia coping skills.
  • Make your life rewarding, your focus on food will be reduced.
  • Pinpoint what your triggers are. Try to deal with them. Make plans for it, if there is a need to ask your family and friends for extra support.
  • Create a strong support system. Get along with people who support and want to see you happy and healthy. People who make you feel bad, avoid being with them.
  • Be with the eating plan for disorder treatment. Do not miss any of the components of the treatment even if you feel you are completely recovered.

Aiding a Friend or a Family Member with Bulimia Nervosa (BN)

You have to talk about your concern if you think that your friends or family member is having bulimia nervosa. Your close ones will deny the fact, but there are chances they will agree to the treatment. One should never ignore bulimia nervosa. The person’s emotional and physical health is at stake.

It is agonizing to know someone you love or your child may be binging and purging. It is not easy to force a person with a disorder of eating to change. You can help them by offering support, encouragement and compassion for their treatment. Few tips if your loved one has bulimia nervosa:

  • Become a good example of body image, exercising, and healthy eating. Do not make any negative comments about yourself or anyone else.
  • Know your limits and accept them. As a friend or parents, you cannot treat bulimia nervosa, but you have to give courage to move forward and treat bulimia.
  • Offer support and compassion. You should keep in mind the person might get angry or defensive. Do not judge them and make sure that person knows that you care for them.
  • Avoid patronizing comments, scare tactics and guilty trips. Bulimia nervosa is often caused by shame, low-self-esteem, stress, negativity that gets worse with time.
  • You should determine when you require the advice for yourself from a health professional or counselor. It can be stressful to deal with the eating disorder, but it will help you to support the system.


  1. National Eating Disorders Association – “Bulimia Nervosa” (https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/by-eating-disorder/bulimia)
  2. Mayo Clinic – “Bulimia nervosa” (https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bulimia/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20353604)
  3. WebMD – “Bulimia Nervosa: Recovery Steps and Tips to Cope With It” (https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/eating-disorders/bulimia-recovery-tips)
  4. HelpGuide – “Bulimia Nervosa or Bulimia: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment” (https://www.helpguide.org/articles/eating-disorders/bulimia-nervosa.htm)
  5. National Institute of Mental Health – “Bulimia Nervosa” (https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/eating-disorders/bulimia-nervosa/index.shtml)

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 22, 2023

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