Whether the cause is biological, psychological or sociological, bulimia is a dangerous disease. And now there is a group of studies that show Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is, for the majority of women, the best hope for managing or even curing their disease.
In the online overview of bulimia, Mayo Clinic states that “Bulimia may be more like a chronic condition that requires long-term care. Periods of bingeing and purging may come and go through the years, depending on your life circumstances.” Yet Mayo Clinic’s overview does concede that CBT is the most promising psychological treatment for bulimia.
Mayo Clinic describes CBT as, “…a type of talk therapy…[CBT] helps you identify unhealthy, negative beliefs and behaviors and replace them with healthy, positive ones….based on the idea that your own thoughts — not other people or situations — determine how you behave.” And this is correct.
However, G. Terence Wilson, Ph. D. of Rutgers University claims that “CBT for bulimia nervosa has been rigorously evaluated in over 20 controlled trials.” And as eating disorder research goes, twenty controlled trials is phenomenal. Wilson conducted one of these studies and for sufferers of bulimia, the most interesting finding was, Wilson reports, “The longest follow-up of CBT [5 years] found that roughly two-thirds of patients had no eating disorder, the great majority of whom were functioning well.” This is reason for great hope.
Five years without bulimia is amazing. Because women and adolescents who have bulimia, they really do suffer. They starve themselves and then binge and then purge and then feel such great self-loathing that they starve themselves again, and the horrible cycle goes round and round. Can you imagine living like that? The sad thing is that sufferers of bulimia wait so long before they seek treatment because of the shame they feel. As a result, they suffer alone and needlessly.
At the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine website, Dr. Kaye, Director, Eating Disorders Program and Professor in the UCSD Department of Psychiatry, stated that “… the high suicide rate in bulimia nervosa is consistent with this disorder’s association with impulsivity and high comorbidity with mood, anxiety, and substance use disorders.” Obviously, getting help for bulimics is an urgent matter.
So if you suspect a friend or relative is bulimic, talk to them. Tell them you love them and don’t want anything to happen to them. Try to convince them to get help or to call the number listed below, or call for them. The consequences of continuing this cycle will be permanent, serious harm to your friend or relative’s body not to mention their spirit, at the very least.
National Eating Disorder Referral and Information Center
International treatment referrals and prevention information
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/bulimia/DS00607/DSECTION=treatments-and-drugs Wilson, G.T. (1997). Cognitive behavioral treatment of bulimia nervosa. The Clinical Psychologist, 50(2), 10-12.