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Bulimia Nervosa Treatment

It’s difficult to estimate exactly how many cases of bulimia nervosa exist. Current research suggests that about four percent of young women have this potentially life-threatening condition. Many of them will also exhibit signs of anorexia nervosa. Studies show that 50 percent of adolescents with anorexia nervosa develop bulimia symptoms, as well.

Bulimia eating disorder is a serious condition that impacts the health of an adolescent girl (or, in a minority of cases, boy) in need of treatment, possibly for the rest of their lives. It requires the highest level of medical and psychiatric care, preferably in a homelike setting, to find the path back to that healthy self and to become fully recovered.

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What Is Bulimia Nervosa?

Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by binging and purging. A person with this condition might eat a large amount of food and then try to avoid the extra calories in a way that is bad for them such as forcing themselves to throw up. Self-induced vomiting is just one possible purge method. Others include:

  • The misuse of laxatives
  • Taking weight loss supplements
  • Using diuretics
  • Taking enemas

The goal is to eliminate the food and with it the guilt of eating it. Bulimia nervosa, like anorexia nervosa, involves being obsessed with weight and shape. The loss of control over eating habits causes the binging and the need to rid themselves of the perceived excess calories leads to the purge.

What Causes Bulimia Nervosa?

It’s not clear why some individuals develop teenage bulimia. It is closely associated with anorexia, though. Treatment for anorexia and bulimia are often linked together for this reason. What the medical community does know is that eating disorders like these involve many factors, including:

  • Genetics
  • Biology
  • Emotional health
  • Societal pressures and expectations
  • Environmental stressors

An individual that comes from a family with a history of eating disorders in first-degree relatives, parent or siblings, is at risk. In some cases, binging and purging is a coping mechanism for another emotional problem like depression or even substance abuse.

What Are the Potential Complications From Bulimia Nervosa?

Anorexia nervosa and bulimia are life-threatening conditions, together or individually. The complications that come from eating disorders cause both medical and psychological long-term problems such as:

  • A lifetime of self-esteem issues that can interfere with social functioning and the ability to form relationships
  • Dehydration, when chronic or long-term, can cause kidney failure
  • Malnutrition
  • Heart problems
  • Irregular periods
  • Digestive issues
  • Personality disorders
  • Substance abuse
  • Self-injury
  • Suicide

Bulimia nervosa treatment centers often notice dental problems, as well, such as tooth decay or gum disease. This is due to a combination of poor nutrition and stomach acid eating away at the tissue during self-induced vomiting.

What Are the Symptoms of Bulimia Nervosa?

It is difficult to detect in someone that wants to hide the symptoms, but there are things a family member or friend can watch for such as:

  • Always talking about being too fat or worrying about food intake
  • A negative body image
  • Eating large amounts of food in one sitting
  • Fasting or restrictive dieting
  • Not wanting to eat in public
  • Going to the bathroom during or after eating
  • Over-exercising
  • Noticeable calluses or scars on the fingers or hands
  • Poor dental health
  • Fluctuating weight
  • Swelling in the feet or hands
  • Enlarged glands in the face, cheek or neck

Any of these signs is a potential red flag that can indicate the need for bulimia inpatient treatment. A bulimia recovery program offers medical and psychiatric care outside of the hospital.

What Is Anorexia Bulimia Treatment?

Since these two eating disorders are so closely linked, the best bulimia treatment centers do tackle both conditions at once when appropriate. Bulimia treatment involves a customized plan in a homelike, residential setting. The recovered staff takes a multidimensional approach to treating each patient on a personal level.

Bulimia inpatient treatment will start with an assessment. The professional staff will follow criteria established in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) to make a diagnosis and craft a personalized bulimia nervosa recovery program.

Bulimia nervosa treatment involves:

  • Psychotherapy including cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Family education and support
  • Medication if warranted such as antidepressants
  • Nutritional counseling

Aftercare is a large part of bulimia treatment for adolescents. Any aftercare bulimia treatment is customized to fit the unique needs of the patient in order to tend to their soul and improve lines of communication.

If a person is considering treatment for bulimia eating disorder, the first thought might be, “Is there a bulimia treatment program near me?” Bulimia treatment centers like Clementine are tailored to meet the needs of adolescents. There are locations conveniently located throughout the country, making this treatment option right no matter where a treatment-seeking individual lives.


Find out more about our unique approach to eating disorder treatment and recovery.

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