Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Treatment for bulimia nervosa

2-minute read

Many people with bulimia nervosa, sometimes referred to as just bulimia, are secretive about their symptoms and do not seek help. But effective treatment is available and it is possible to recover.

Bulimia is an eating disorder that can cause binge eating.

What is bulimia nervosa?

Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder that can cause binge eating.

The first step is to see a doctor, who can then refer a person to a psychologist, psychiatrist or dietitian as needed.

Treatment usually begins with psychotherapy, such as cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), family-based treatment (for children and adolescents) or other kinds of therapy.

This can help to overcome unhelpful thinking patterns about weight and body image, as well as improve mood and anxiety.

It’s important to restore healthy eating habits and seeing a dietitian for nutrition advice can be very helpful.

Some people with bulimia nervosa may be treated with an antidepressant to reduce their anxiety and improve their mood and self-control.

Self-help tools can also help. Read more about self-help tools.

Recovery can be a slow process and some people have relapses along the way.

Stress can trigger symptoms for bulimia nervosa to reappear, so it’s important to get back to treatment of the condition if that happens.

Where to get help

If you, or someone you know, think they might have bulimia nervosa, contact the following organisations for support, information and counselling:

 

Last reviewed: July 2017

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Bulimia nervosa

Bulimia nervosa is characterised by eating large amounts of food and purging, for example by vomiting and or using laxatives. Between 1 and 3 per cent of young people experience bulimia nervosa.

Read more on WA Health website

Bulimia nervosa

People with bulimia nervosa often place an excessive emphasis on body shape or weight in their self-evaluation

Read more on NEDC - National Eating Disorders Collaboration website

Bulimia nervosa in teenagers | Raising Children Network

Bulimia nervosa is a mental and eating disorder. People eat in an out of control way and then purge. Read about bulimia signs and getting help for teens.

Read more on raisingchildren.net.au website

Bulimia (binge eating disorder) information | myVMC

Bulimia nervosa is a psychological disease characterised by episodic, uncontrolled binge eating, followed by self-induced vomiting to avoid weight gain.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Eating disorders - myDr.com.au

Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder are the main forms of eating disorders.Symptoms include abnormal eating patterns, and a tendency to be worried or preoccupied with foo

Read more on myDr website

Binge eating disorder

Unlike those with bulimia nervosa, a person with binge eating disorder will not use compensatory behaviours, such as self-induced vomiting or over-exercising after binge eating

Read more on NEDC - National Eating Disorders Collaboration website

For people with an eating disorder

Perhaps someone has approached you with the suggestion that you may have an eating disorder, or perhaps you suspect it yourself.

Read more on Eating Disorders Victoria website

Getting help

Perhaps someone has approached you with the suggestion that you may have an eating disorder, or perhaps you suspect it yourself.

Read more on Eating Disorders Victoria website

Suggested reading for recovery

Below is a list of books which are recommended by EDV staff to assist those wishing to recover from an eating disorder. The list is by no means exhaustive, but is designed to assist you to get started on the road to discovering books best suited to your own circumstances.

Read more on Eating Disorders Victoria website

What can I do if I am worried that a friend has an eating disorder? Dietitians Association of Australia

What can I do if I am worried that a friend has an eating disorder? Eating disorders such as Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia are very serious medical conditions

Read more on Dietitians Association of Australia website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo