Initially, friends and family may suspect that a person suffers from Bulimia by observing one or more of the signs and symptoms of the condition.
A formal diagnosis for Bulimia usually requires that the binge eating and inappropriate compensatory behaviors both occur, on average, at least twice a week over a period of at least 3 months.
The primary aim in the treatment of Bulimia sufferers is to reduce or eliminate binge eating and purging behavior. To achieve this, a range of treatment options may be required, such as nutritional rehabilitation, psychosocial intervention, and medication management.
In addition, establishing a regular pattern of non-binge meals, and improving eating attitudes, encouraging healthy but not excessive exercise, and resolving other relevant and co-occurring conditions, such as mood and anxiety disorders, are also essential components for the treatment of Bulimia sufferers.
A range of individual psychotherapies, such as cognitive-behavioral or interpersonal psychotherapy, group psychotherapy that uses a cognitive-behavioral approach, and family or marital therapy can also be effective in treating Bulimia.
In addition, psychotropic medications, which include antidepressants such as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), have proven helpful for weight maintenance and for resolving various mood and anxiety symptoms that are often associated with Bulimia. This is particularly true with sufferers who exhibit significant symptoms of depression or anxiety, or those who have not responded adequately to psychosocial treatment alone. These medications also may help prevent relapse or recurrence of the condition.
People with Eating Disorders often do not recognize or admit that they are ill. As a result, they may strongly resist treatments for their condition. Family members and other trusted individuals can be essential in ensuring that the sufferer receives needed care and continues with their rehabilitation. For some people, treatment may be long term.