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Bulimia Nervosa — Treatment in Scottsdale, Arizona

From the Greek word ‘boulimia’, which means ravenous hunger. Often referred to as simply “Bulimia”, this is a potentially life-threatening mental disorder. Characteristics of Bulimia Nervosa include behaviors of binging and purging to control and manipulate one’s weight and body shape.

Binging consists of consuming large amounts of food in a short period of time and often experience detachment (lack of being present), a lack of control from the experience as well as dissatisfaction with body image. Purging consists of some type of compensatory behavior, such as self induced vomiting, excessive exercise, laxatives, diuretics, enemas, restricting insulin. Periods of restricting may precede binging and purging. Guilt, shame and secrecy are often present, which fuels the binge purge cycle. Bulimia Nervosa cuts across lines of gender, culture, ethnicity and socioeconomic status.

Bulimia Treatment Programs

Due to the complexity of Bulimia, a multi-disciplinary team of professionals and a multi-faceted regime is needed to set the patient on the road to healing and recovery.
Treatment plans often involve addressing the underlying influences and function of the eating disorder as well as developing support, facing fears and developing a relapse prevention plan. Also, to assist the person in facing the road to recovering their health and well-being, treatments are often individualized and tailored to meet the unique needs of every patient.
A multi-disciplinary team of professionals that are used to address eating disorders is usually made up of a therapist, dietitian, medical doctor and psychiatric provider. The team works together in providing education, support, and recommendations that best support the individual in their recovery journey. A regime of complete care will include the following:

  • Therapy – the patient will undergo various forms of psychotherapy, such as group, family and individual therapy. Therapy is vital to addressing the underlying causes of the eating disorder, developing a roadmap for recovery and a fundamental element of treatment. The various therapies will also include better-coping skills to help with emotional regulation, developing healthy relationships, food exposures and building a relationship with food and their bodies.
  • Dietitian – a dietitian will ensure that the patient’s weight stabilizes and work towards restoring and maintaining a healthy weight and BMI. The work will also include a guide to forming normal and intuitive eating habits and develop a personalized meal plan.
  • Medications – some medications may be prescribed to help with mood regulation and body image distortion to assist the patient with getting the most out of their treatment.
  • Monitoring and Medical Care – medical monitoring is important to provide education and aid in the resolution of medical concerns that were consequences of the eating disorder.

Treatment options vary from outpatient support groups to inpatient hospitalization based on the severity and needs of the individual. The first step to treatment is awareness and the willingness to get help.

Bulimia Therapy Techniques

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is highly effective in treating a number of mental health disorders, including eating disorders. CBT is an integration of two originally separate theoretical approaches to understand and treat psychological disorders; the behavioral approach, and the cognitive approach. Each client will learn cognitive strategies in addition to exposure therapy, and the importance of Mindfulness-Based Awareness Training (MBAT) and how to apply it daily. Learn more about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
  • Exposure and Response Prevention: Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) is a form of behavioral therapy that provides an effective treatment for individuals suffering from eating disorders. Exposures are conducted in order to ensure generalization of treatment gains. With exposure therapy, those suffering from eating disorders will be able to “habituate” to the fearful trigger, which results in decreased anxiety and increased mental health and happiness. Types of Exposures:
  • In-Vivo or Live Exposures: These are real-life experiences that provide the sufferer with a live experience of confronting that which they fear. Through clinical support and coaching from the therapists, clients are able to engage in a fear or situation while learning the skills and tools to overcome the trigger.
  • Imaginary Exposures: These exposures are done through writing and reading techniques. This is usually used when In-Vivo exposures cannot be performed.
  • Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT): ACT is an empirically based psychological therapy technique that uses acceptance and mindfulness, combined with commitment and behavioral changes, to increase psychological flexibility. Through this flexibility, clients are able to come into contact with fears, anxiety, physical sensations, and memories and gain the skills to re-contextualize and accept what has transpired, which allows them to make necessary changes in their lives.
  • Psychoeducation:Education about eating disorders is one of the most important components of the initial phase of treatment. When clients and their families have a clear understanding of how eating disorders affect the brain and how it manifests itself, they are better prepared to face the challenges eating disorders present. The Gateway Institute provides critical education to help minimize unintended reinforcement, and firmly establishes tools that can help facilitate the healing process in a productive manner.
  • Mindfulness-Based Behavioral Therapy: Using the advances made in the treatment of eating disorders over the past 10 years, The Gateway Institute incorporates the most current techniques in its treatment programs. Some of these advanced treatments include Mindfulness Based Behavioral Therapy (MBBT). In our practice, we have discovered that a comprehensive treatment strategy that we refer to as Mindfulness-Based Behavioral Therapy improves treatment response. In MBBT we incorporate informal mindfulness training along with exposure and response prevention (ERP) and a writing intervention with both behavioral and mindfulness components that contribute to treatment effectiveness.
  • Behavioral Therapy Combined With Medication:Though behavioral therapy may be the most effective treatment in terms of long-term management of an eating disorder, research indicates that combining both CBT and medication may be beneficial for overall success. Medications considered for the treatment of eating disorders are usually antidepressants know as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI), which are often effective without severe side effects. The Gateway Institute works with skilled and experienced psychiatrists to find the right combination of medication to effectively treat eating disorders when necessary.
  • Coordinated Dietician Care: Gateway clinicians will support clients with coordinating care with their dietician to help provide the

Types of Bulimia Treatment

  • 3-Week Intensive Treatment Program for Adults: The Gateway Institute offers a 3-week eating disorder treatment program for adults utilizing the most effective approaches currently available for the treatment of eating disorders. After a thorough assessment of each client, a treatment plan is designed and tailored to meet the specific needs of each client. This plan is implemented over 3 weeks and includes 45 hours of individualized treatment.
  • 3-Week Intensive Treatment Program for Adolescents: The Gateway Institute offers a 3-week eating disorder treatment program utilizing the most effective approaches currently available for the treatment of adolescent eating disorders.
  • 3-Week Intensive Treatment Program for Children: The Gateway Institute offers a 3-week eating disorder treatment program utilizing the most effective approaches currently available for the treatment of child eating disorders.
  • Weekly Program: For clients whose symptoms do not require the Intensive Treatment Program, The Gateway Institute offers eating disorder treatment programs with weekly sessions or multiple sessions each week, depending on need.
  • Bi or Tri-Weekly Program: for those not able to do the intensive but need more support than just weekly sessions, an option would include 2-3 weekly sessions.
  • Customized Treatment Program: These options include a 3-week eating disorder intensive therapy program, weekly, bi-weekly and monthly options.

Causes of Bulimia

When it comes to Bulimia, it can be hard to pinpoint a specific cause, but there are different factors that can contribute to the onset of Bulimia. These include:

  • Societal expectations of an ideal body
  • A desire to control something in their life
  • History of abuse or trauma
  • Poor self-esteem
  • Bullying and rejection
  • Family conflict and lack of resolution
  • Lack of emotion regulation
  • Temperament
  • Stressful life changes or transitions
  • Being in a profession that focuses on appearances such as modeling, promoting, sports, etc.

Symptoms of Bulimia

Symptoms of Bulimia can include:

  • Preoccupation of weight and body shape
  • Excessive fear of gaining weight
  • Eating enormous amounts of food without weight gain
  • Going to the bathroom after eating
  • Avoiding and excuses of not eating
  • Hoarding food
  • Using herbal or dietary supplements excessively
  • Isolation
  • Dishonesty, secrecy, lying, stealing
  • Manipulative and controlling behavior
  • Superficial relationships
  • Mood swings
  • Excessive guilt and shame
  • Impulsivity
  • Self harm, addictions may also be present

Generally the severity of someone’s Bulimia can be determined by the frequency of the binge/purge sessions.

Common Physical Signs of Bulimia

Symptoms of Bulimia can include:

  • Dental problems like tooth sensitivity and enamel erosion due to the regular vomiting
  • Teeth discoloration from vomiting
  • Cuts and calluses on the top of the finger due to inducing vomiting
  • Fluctuating weight
  • Muscle weakness and fatigue
  • Salivary gland swelling
  • Abdominal and bowel problems like constipation and bloating
  • Headaches
  • Heart problems
  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • Dehydration
  • Esophageal tears and bleeding
  • Cancer of mouth and throat from acid due to purging
  • Bad breath
  • Poor concentration and attention
  • Stress fractures and muscle injuries
  • Death

Generally the severity of someone’s Bulimia can be determined by the frequency of the binge/purge sessions.

Additional Eating Disorders We Treat:

For more information on these eating conditions, click below.
Anorexia Nervosa
Binge Eating Disorder

Additional Conditions We Treat:

For more information on these eating conditions, click below.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Panic Disorder
Social Anxiety Disorder
Post-Traumatic Disorder
Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Scottsdale, Arizona

Scottsdale, Arizona
18940 N Prima Rd. #165
Scottsdale, Arizona 85255
Ph. (480) 214-9543
Fax. (480) 248-8024

Serving Orange County