Bulimia in Teens: Care Instructions

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Bulimia nervosa is a type of eating disorder. People who have bulimia eat a lot of food in a short amount of time (binge). They are very concerned about body shape and size. And they are afraid of gaining weight.

Binge eating is often set off by stress or other emotions. After overeating, a person with bulimia may feel upset about it. They may vomit, use laxatives, or exercise a lot to get rid of the food they ate.

Counseling is a big part of treatment for bulimia. It can help you understand the condition and learn ways to reduce your stress. Nutritional counseling can help you learn how to eat a variety of healthy foods. It may help to have your family take part in family counseling so that they can support you. Treatment with medicines such as antidepressants also can help.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

Here are some things you can do to take care of yourself during recovery from an eating disorder.

  • Try to stick to your treatment plan. Go to any counseling sessions you have. If you can't go, or if you don't think the sessions are helping, talk to your counselor about it. And take any medicines you've been prescribed exactly as directed.
  • Work on healthy eating habits. Listen to what your counselor and dietitian say about healthy eating. You can work with them to make a plan to eat a variety of healthy foods.
  • Learn healthy ways to deal with stress. Managing stress is important in recovery. Find what works for you. You could try things like journaling, volunteering, reading, or meditating.
  • Get support from others. This might be from caring family members or friends or an eating disorders support group.
  • Take it easy on yourself. Focus on your good qualities. Don't blame yourself for your disorder. And remember that recovery takes time and that you can make progress one goal at a time.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You are thinking about suicide or are threatening suicide.
  • You feel you cannot stop from hurting yourself or someone else.
  • You cough up blood.
  • You vomit blood or what looks like coffee grounds.
  • You pass maroon or very bloody stools.

Where to get help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

If you or someone you know talks about suicide, self-harm, a mental health crisis, a substance use crisis, or any other kind of emotional distress, get help right away. You can:

  • Call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988.
  • Call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).
  • Text HOME to 741741 to access the Crisis Text Line.

Consider saving these numbers in your phone.

Go to 988lifeline.org for more information or to chat online.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You feel hopeless or have thoughts of hurting yourself.
  • You have pain in your belly.
  • You have an irregular heartbeat.
  • You are dizzy or lightheaded, or you feel like you may faint.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You have trouble sleeping.
  • You feel anxious or depressed.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

Enter N892 in the search box to learn more about "Bulimia in Teens: Care Instructions".

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.