Treatment may take time, but you can recover from bulimia.
Treatment for bulimia is slightly different for adults and those under 18 years old.
You will probably be offered a guided self-help programme as a first step in treating your bulimia. This often involves working through a self-help book combined with sessions with a health care professional, such as a therapist.
These self-help books may take you through a programme that helps you to:
Joining a self-help support group, like one of the Beat online support groups for people with bulimia, may be helpful to you.
If self-help treatment alone isn't enough or hasn't helped you after four weeks, you may also be offered cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or medication.
If you are offered CBT, it will usually involve up to 20 sessions across 20 weeks.
CBT involves talking to a therapist, who will help you explore emotions and thoughts that could be contributing to your eating disorder, and how you feel about your weight and body shape.
They will help you to adopt regular eating habits and show you how to stick to them. They should also show you ways to manage difficult feelings and situations to stop you from relapsing once your therapy ends.
Children and young people will usually be offered family therapy. This involves you and your family talking to a therapist, exploring how bulimia has affected you and how your family can support you to get better.
You may also be offered CBT, which will be the same as the CBT offered to adults.
It's important to look after your health while recovering from bulimia.
If you are vomiting regularly, the acid in your vomit can damage your teeth over time. In order to minimise this damage you should:
Vomiting can also lead to risk of dehydration. To avoid this, make sure you drink plenty of fluids to replace what you have vomited.
Antidepressants should not be offered as the only treatment for bulimia. But you may be offered an antidepressant, such as fluoxetine (Prozac), in combination with therapy or self-help treatment, to help you manage other conditions, such as:
Antidepressants are very rarely prescribed for children or young people under 18.
Most people with bulimia will be able to stay at home during their treatment. You will usually have appointments at your clinic and then be able to go home.
However, you may be admitted to hospital if you have serious health complications, including:
Your doctors will keep a very careful eye on your weight and health if you're being cared for in hospital. They will help you to reach a healthy weight gradually, and either start or continue any therapy you are having.
Once they are happy with your weight, as well as your physical and mental health, you should be able to return home.
There are many organisations that support people with bulimia and their families, including: