Treatment for bulimia nervosa may include psychotherapy or medication, or both. If other medical conditions are also present, then doctors will issue proper treatment guidelines for these also. For example, an emotional disorder such as depression will require its own treatment. And, if there are any substance abuse problems, then there will be additional treatments recommended.
The treatment goals of bulimia nervosa will first address serious malnourishment, if applicable. If this is not a concern, then treatment will seek to eliminate any bingeing and purging behaviour. However, relapse can occur, and should not bring about despair. Let's take a look at possible treatment options here.
Prozac is the only drug currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration specifically to treat bulimia. However, other medication may be prescribed to treat underlying emotional or behavioral disorders. People resistant to treatment through therapy alone may be prescribed medication, or as the doctor sees as is medically appropriate.
Counselling for bulimia varies from cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to nutritional therapy. CBT aims to bring about a change in attitude concerning a person's size and shape, and eating patterns. Additionally, a person diagnosed with bulimia will learn how to gain control over eating patterns during cognitive behavioral therapy to eliminate bingeing periods, and to minimize stressors that trigger the entire binge-purge cycle. Nutritional therapy may be helpful in educating someone normal, healthy eating habits that provide nourishment to the body.
Other counselling may involve the family, or seeking help through support groups like 12-step programs. By involving the family, or by understanding that others are going through the same through support groups, a person with bulimia realizes that she/he is not alone in facing the challenges of establishing healthy, normal eating attitudes and behaviours.
While psychotherapy and medications are used to treat someone once diagnosed with bulimia, cultivating healthy attitudes regarding body images, eating, being competitive in sports while remaining physically healthy, etc. are all important in preventing the eating disorders. The right attitudes and behaviours can be cultivated at an early age, when a person is still a child. Thus, having a family that is proactive in dealing with these concerns, especially if a parent has experienced an eating disorder in the past or is currently experiencing one, can help reduce the likelihood of future health problems.
Bulimia is a chronic, but treatable disorder . . . one that requires support from family and loved ones. Although treatment can take a long time, and may be difficult, it is certainly preferable than living a life filled with the anxiety and stress that places physical strain on the body through the binge and purge cycle.
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