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Bulimia nervosa

Bulimia is a treatable condition and it’s possible for you to take steps towards recovery and wellbeing. Even though bulimia can be a secretive disorder, you really don’t have to struggle on your own; at Priory, we can help.

If you have bulimia, you will have difficulty controlling your eating urges and the amount of food you eat, leading to significant and frequent binges. You may or may not perform some compensatory behaviours like vomiting, using laxatives or excessively exercising to control your weight. You may have some degree of fear around weight gain and often, the impact on the overeating would be your primary concern.

Bulimia usually consists of:

  • Binge eating – this is when you eat excessively, even if you’re not hungry (often up to three or four times the usual amount of food). People tend to binge on foods that are considered to be unhealthy such as crisps, chocolate or other types of ‘junk food’
  • Purging – after binge eating, bulimia sufferers will often try to remove the calories they have consumed using harmful methods. These may include making yourself sick, exercising excessively or abusing laxatives

The binge-purge cycles associated with bulimia can be triggered by hunger, stress, anxiety or at times, for no obvious reasons.

Unlike some other eating disorders, bulimia may not cause a significant change in your weight, as the cycles can balance this out. In addition, people with bulimia often go to extreme lengths to try and hide their behaviours. These factors mean that bulimia can sometimes be very difficult to spot.

Get help for your bulimia today at Priory

At Priory, we know that seeking help for your bulimia can be a difficult step to take, but it’s crucial if you want to get your life back on track. Treatment for bulimia can help you to take steps towards a full and lasting recovery.

Our bulimia treatment teams are made up of specialist psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists and other highly skilled eating disorder professionals, who are dedicated to delivering evidence-based treatment for bulimia at our specialist UK hospitals and wellbeing centres.

The aim of the bulimia treatment we offer at Priory is to help you to:

  • Identify the causes and underlying triggers for your unhealthy eating habits
  • Address dysfunctional thought patterns and behaviours
  • Develop a healthy relationship with food
  • Learn healthy coping strategies for the future
  • Enable you to return to a positive and fulfilling way of life

Remember, you don’t have to struggle with bulimia – contact us today to find out how we can help you on the road to recovery.

Private treatment for bulimia nervosa at Priory

At Priory, we understand that everyone experiences bulimia differently. That’s why the bulimia treatment you receive is individually tailored to your unique needs, helping you achieve the best possible outcomes for you.

The type and length of the bulimia treatment you’ll receive at Priory, depends on the nature of your condition and how severe your bulimia is. We can deliver high quality bulimia treatment on an outpatient, day care or inpatient (residential) basis, and the best option for you will be recommended based on the level of support you need. You can read more about these different treatment options on our approach to eating disorder treatment page.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for bulimia

CBT is used all over the world to treat a wide range of mental health conditions and eating disorders, including bulimia nervosa.

CBT for eating disorders (known as CBT-enhanced or CBT-E) is based on the idea that these conditions develop because of negative, deep-rooted thought processes, which can:

  • Prevent you from making healthy choices about food, diet, and eating habits
  • Cause you doubt your ability to overcome your eating disorder

At Priory, we use CBT-E to challenge and change your negative thought patterns so we’re able to change the resulting negative behaviours. Our CBT experts will work with you in a collaborative way to help you:

  • Identify your irrational beliefs regarding food, diet and body image
  • Develop an understanding of why these irrational beliefs developed in the first place
  • Replace your negative thoughts with healthier and more rational alternatives

Other specialist eating disorder interventions

Our expert eating disorder treatment teams can also provide a range of therapeutic techniques that have been designed specifically to help people with eating disorders, such as bulimia. These include:

  • Dietetic input
  • Supported meals for those who are receiving treatment as inpatients
  • Food exposure interventions
  • Body image workshops

Outpatient therapy package for bulimia

We are also able to offer a tailored outpatient therapy package at our wellbeing centres, that has been specially designed to tackle bulimia nervosa. In order to allow peace of mind, our therapy package offers:

  • A set amount of one-to-one therapy sessions
  • A personalised treatment plan, discounted rates
  • Certainty of price for initial treatment (a further discount is also available for any additional therapy sessions you may need following your initial bulimia treatment package)

More information on the treatment and package price can be found by accessing our bulimia nervosa outpatient therapy package brochure.

Support for families and loved ones

It can be difficult to watch a loved one struggle with an eating disorder. That's why we also offer one-to-one support for the families, carers and loved ones of our eating disorder patients. During these sessions, we'll help you to:

  • Develop an understanding of your loved one's eating disorder and become better equipped to support them during their recovery journey
  • Manage your own experience of your loved one's recovery

Feedback that we receive from families and loved ones of our eating disorder patients, state how helpful and crucial these sessions are.

For more information about our family support sessions at Priory, please visit our approach to eating disorder treatment page.

Start your journey towards recovery from bulimia

Our eating disorder experts have lots of experience in treating bulimia and we’re able to deliver a wide range of therapy techniques. We can help you reduce your bulimia symptoms and take steps towards recovery.

We know that everyone experiences bulimia differently which is why we’re committed to providing personalised bulimia support, meaning you can achieve the best possible outcomes for you as an individual.

Unfortunately, without help, your bulimia may get worse over time. It can have a negative impact on your ability to function in your daily life, your performance at work or school, as well as your mental and physical health. Bulimia doesn’t just affect you either; it can have an effect on your whole family and relationships with other people. Your family might find it hard to understand the behaviours that are linked to bulimia, which can lead to arguments, stress and ongoing problems. That’s why, at Priory, we like to involve family and friends throughout your bulimia treatment and recovery process, so we can provide help & support and education to them too.

Whilst it can be overwhelming and daunting to seek expert psychological support for your bulimia, it really is the most crucial step you can take to get your life back on track. Bulimia is treatable and we will support you every step of the way towards the bulimia-free life you deserve.

A nationwide UK network of specialist treatment centres

Our specialist treatment environments provide you with the ideal setting to receive expert therapy, address your challenges, and take steps towards a positive future. Our extensive national network of specialist hospitals and wellbeing centres mean we can offer you flexible support in a location that’s convenient for you.

We also offer online therapy for bulimia. This allows you to access support at a time and place that's convenient for you.

This page was clinically reviewed by Dr Murali Sekar (MBBS, MRCPsych) in October 2022.

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Crisis care at Priory
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For details of how Priory can provide you with assistance regarding eating disorder treatment, please call 0800 840 3219 or click here to submit an enquiry form. For professionals looking to make a referral, please click here

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