In bulimia rehab, patients are treated for disordered eating and provided with tools they can use to prevent future relapses. This may be provided on an inpatient or outpatient basis, depending on the needs of the patient. The length of time required for bulimia rehab can vary, as people usually move at different paces during therapy programs, and sometimes patients need to switch courses of therapy because the one they start with is not effective for their needs.
The first step in bulimia rehab is evaluation of the patient. Patients may voluntarily seek treatment or be brought in for care by friends and family. They are given thorough physical exams and interviewed to collect some basic information. This will be used to establish a treatment plan. Special attention is paid to the signs of bulimia complications like dangerously low weight or damage to the teeth, as these need to be treated while the patient is receiving mental health care.
Approaches to rehabilitation are quite varied. Generally, patients are provided with opportunities for talk therapy, both alone and in group sessions. They may be evaluated for depression and other mental health issues and can be provided with medication, if it deemed appropriate. Nutritionists work with patients on establishing a healthy, balanced diet, and patients are supervised while eating and afterward to make sure they are eating and to head off binging and purging behavior.
Support from other patients is usually recommended, as people may find common ground with people who have also struggled with disordered eating. If patients have physical health problems as a result of their bulimia, these will also be addressed during bulimia rehab. Patients may also be advised to stay busy, picking up new hobbies, reading, volunteering, and engaging in other activities to get active and take focus away from food, body image, and related issues. Exercise regimens to get patients moving may also be used during bulimia rehab.
People considering bulimia rehab can usually tour clinics and get information about their approach to treatment. This can be valuable for finding a facility where the treatment will be a good match to the patient's needs. Some patients may appreciate a more spiritual approach to treatment, for example, while others may find this alienating and irritating. If a patient is not making progress in rehabilitation, a recommendation to transfer to another facility may be made so the patient will get the most appropriate care.