Bulimia Nervosa: Does Family-Based Treatment Work?

Bulimia Nervosa: Does Family-Based Treatment Work?

An eating disorder such as bulimia nervosa is a dangerous, potentially life-threatening disease. Learn about it and how to deal with it.

When parents and loved ones first learn their child has been diagnosed with bulimia nervosa it is normal to experience a wide range of emotions, from anger and fear to guilt and sadness.

It is also normal to question the next steps to ensure their child receives the best bulimia nervosa treatment available.

Bulimia Nervosa- Does Family-Based Treatment Work?

Forcing yourself to vomit is one of the most frequent symptoms of bulimia nervosa.

What Is Bulimia Nervosa?

Bulimia eating disorder is a very serious mental health condition that, if left untreated, can be fatal.

While bulimia nervosa can affect people of all ages and genders, most develop the condition in adolescence.

National surveys suggest up to 10 million men and 20 million women will develop at least one eating disorder at some point in their lives.

So, what is the best approach for families seeking bulimia treatment? Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of family-based therapy for adolescents.

What Are The Symptoms?

You may suffer from bulimia nervosa if you suffer the following symptoms:

  • Care too much of your body shape and weight.
  • Are constantly afraid of gaining weight.
  • Eat abnormally large amounts of food in one sitting.
  • Can’t control what you eat and when you start eating, you can’t stop.
  • Feel guilty after a binge eating episode and do unnecessary things to avoid weight gaining: force yourself to vomit, exercise too much, use laxatives or diuretics, fast until the next binge.
  • Use weight loss supplements on a regular basis.

So if you force yourself to vomit at least once a week just so you don’t gain weight, and are obsessed with controlling your weight, then you probably suffer from bulimia nervosa.

Make sure to seek for medical help right when you notice any of these symptoms.

Bulimia Nervosa Quick Facts

Bulimia nervosa is the second most common eating disorder among teens.

Children can begin showing signs of bulimia nervosa as early as five years old.

Between one and three percent of teens in the United States show symptoms of bulimia nervosa each year.

While teen girls are diagnosed with bulimia nervosa most often, five to fifteen percent of those with the disorder are male.

Does FBT Work For Adolescents With Bulimia Nervosa?

Family-based therapy or FBT is a treatment program designed specifically to help treat adolescents.

Family therapy is a term parents may hear quite often when researching bulimia treatment centers, but FBT refers to a specific type of treatment developed at the Maudsley Hospital in London.

When used to treat a bulimia eating disorder diagnosis, FBT is typically used as part of an outpatient treatment program. Patients and their families can expect to complete around 20 sessions within a six month period.

However, shorter courses are appropriate for some, while others may benefit from additional treatment sessions.

Does FBT Work For Adolescents With Bulimia Nervosa?


What To Expect With FBT?

Before parents search online for “bulimia treatment centers near me”, it helps to have a better idea of what their children and family members can expect as they begin on the road to recovery and healing together.

With FBT, patients will complete their treatment in three phases:

Phase One

During the first phase of treatment, parents are charged with helping their child re-establish healthy eating patterns, and negating binging and purging behaviors.

While this is largely a collaborative effort, it is important for parents to use their authority to make decisions surrounding food and mealtimes.

However, children are able to maintain their autonomy at school and with friends.

Phase Two

In the second phase of treatment, any acute symptoms related to the child’s eating disorder should be greatly reduced, making way for a new set of skills to be learned.

Parents can introduce a variety of different foods into their child’s diet and provide the child with more responsibility in feeding themselves.

Phase Three

The final phase of treatment is only implemented when the child is able to maintain a weight that is above 95 percent of the ideal weight for their age, height, and build.

Any attempts at self-starvation or purging should be abated.

Treatment now shifts to focus on the impact that bulimia nervosa has had on the child, their personal relationships, and their overall health.

Appropriate parental boundaries should also be set to help the child regain full responsibility for their nourishment.

What To Expect From A Treatment Center?

A treatment center for bulimia nervosa should support not only the child but the entire family in their recovery from the eating disorder.

Besides helping with the actual eating disorder treatment, it should also provide a safe, comfortable, and home-like setting. Here, the teens and their families should have access to the tools they need to enjoy a successful and long-term recovery.

You need to see in a bulimia treatment center a bigger family for your family.

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