With treatment plans, there will often be a combination of medicated approaches, and what’s called cognitive-behaviour therapy. Of course, the type of approach your doctor will take is determined by the severity of the condition and how long the condition has been present. Responses to each type of therapy can be dependent on a variety of factors such as pre-existing mental conditions and particular personality types. Someone that has OCD or is a perfectionist might struggle with specific treatment plans.
Antidepressant medications work by increasing levels of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, which are known to increase mood. As bulimia is often borne out of feelings of depression and anxiety, taking antidepressants may help to break the destructive binge-purge cycle, by controlling thought patterns, and reducing the urge to engage in such behavior.
The most common antidepressant prescribed for bulimia is Fluoxetine, which contains serotonin, a hormone responsible for mood regulation, controlling emotions and in particular appetite. Many bulimics are found to have low levels of serotonin, which has been shown in studies to lower mood and increase irritability and even aggression. It’s interesting to also note that low serotonin ignites impulse control disorders.
Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT)
Some people struggle to open up to complete strangers and discuss issues which are incredibly personal, such as eating disorders. However, others find this much easier to do than to open up to those that are close to them. Psychologists can help manage your eating disorder and bring you back on track to good health.
CBT helps to break down your destructive thought patterns and also assists in recognizing the link between thought, mood, and action. You will work closely with a therapist that is specially trained in assisting patients with eating disorders and will help you to understand your condition. You will be provided with tools to:
- Improve your feelings of self-worth and self-judgement.
- Eliminate negative thought patterns and behaviors and replace with a healthier mindset.
- Help to identify the reality of situations, rather than the overthinking of certain situations and drawing incorrect conclusions or judgements.
- Assist with a dieting plan, focusing on high nutritional food options.
- A strong focus on resolving issues surrounding body-image and perceived beliefs.
Often programs will run from between five to twenty weeks and are specifically structured to slowly break down your challenges and obstacles that you’ve been dealing with alone up until this point. You will also be given tasks to complete as homework following your sessions.
In studies, it has been recognized that intervention by way of psychotherapy is most effective in reducing binge eating and purging, then by medication alone. The chance of relapse is reduced, as the coping tools can be used for life, whereas once medication runs out, you may feel that you’re left on your own.