What is Involved in Bulimia Rehab?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Individual talk therapy is typically part of bulimia rehab.
Individual talk therapy is typically part of bulimia rehab.

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.

In bulimia rehab, patients learn how to redirect their focus from obsessing over food.
In bulimia rehab, patients learn how to redirect their focus from obsessing over food.

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.

A bulimia therapist tries to understand how weight issues began.
A bulimia therapist tries to understand how weight issues began.

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.

A person undergoing bulimia rehab are monitored to make sure they are digesting food instead of throwing it back up.
A person undergoing bulimia rehab are monitored to make sure they are digesting food instead of throwing it back up.

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.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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    • Individual talk therapy is typically part of bulimia rehab.
      By: emiliau
      Individual talk therapy is typically part of bulimia rehab.
    • In bulimia rehab, patients learn how to redirect their focus from obsessing over food.
      By: Simone van den Berg
      In bulimia rehab, patients learn how to redirect their focus from obsessing over food.
    • A bulimia therapist tries to understand how weight issues began.
      By: trekandphoto
      A bulimia therapist tries to understand how weight issues began.
    • A person undergoing bulimia rehab are monitored to make sure they are digesting food instead of throwing it back up.
      By: lightwavemedia
      A person undergoing bulimia rehab are monitored to make sure they are digesting food instead of throwing it back up.