Bulimia (or bulimia nervosa) is a serious mental illness. It can affect anyone of any age, gender, or background. People with bulimia experience cycles of eating large quantities of food (called bingeing), and then trying to compensate for the binge by vomiting, taking laxatives or diuretics, fasting, or exercising excessively (called purging). You can read more about bulimia here.
Most treatment for bulimia will take place in outpatient services. Inpatient treatment is usually only necessary when someone is at risk of suicide or severe self-harm.
Therapy can be recommended as part of the treatment for bulimia in order to tackle the underlying thoughts and feelings that cause the illness and encourage healthier ways of coping. Therapies recommended to help treat bulimia might include:
CBT is likely to be recommended as part of your treatment, and may have positive results over a shorter course of treatment than other forms of therapy. However, if CBT isn’t right for you, you can get good results through other therapies too.
You can read a bit more about what each therapy involves in our glossary.
Self help and support groups where you’re able to talk to others going through similar experiences can be useful to both sufferers and their families throughout treatment and in sustaining recovery. Please search our HelpFinder database for information about what’s available in your area. Alternatively, Beat runs online support groups for people with eating disorders.
Beat’s free, confidential Helplines are open 365 days a year 12-8pm Monday to Friday and 4-8pm Saturday, Sunday and bank holidays.
You can also join one of our online support groups, which are anonymous and give you the opportunity to speak to people going through similar experiences to you:
If you’d like to find face-to-face support in your area, you can use our HelpFinder service to see what’s available.