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Learn more about the results we get at Within

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Bulimia treatment at home

Bulimia nervosa (BN) is an eating disorder characterized by cycles of binge eating and purging, with these behaviors often tied to a preoccupation with body weight and shape.1,2

Since BN has so many mental, physical, and emotional impacts—and causes—it often requires treatment that is tailored to each patient's specific history and needs. But thankfully, many of those programs can now be followed partially or entirely online, making treating bulimia at home a real possibility for more people.

In this article, we'll look at how effective bulimia treatment at home can be, as well as some common pitfalls to look out for when recovering from bulimia at home.

Last updated on 
December 26, 2023
Bulimia treatment at home
In this article

What is bulimia treatment at home?

How to treat bulimia at home has transformed over the years. Self-guided therapy sessions that use workbooks and other take-home materials have long been used to treat BN, with programs proving effective.11 But the rise of the internet and online apps have made this type of care even more accessible.

Now, through video conferencing, phone calls, messaging, and other virtual programs, individuals can access mental health support in a convenient and comforting environment—right from their own homes. And those patients who may need more support or assistance than a self-help program can also benefit, with some higher levels of care being adapted to help promote eating disorder recovery at home.

Learn about our remote bulimia treatment program.
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The telepsychiatry experience is designed with the patient in mind, making it easy to schedule appointments with a psychiatrist via a dedicated service or platform. During the session, the psychiatrist will compassionately assess the patient's needs and offer tailored treatment suggestions for how to recover from bulimia at home, which may include prescribing medication or recommending therapy for the individual or their child.

At Within Health, our extensive team of empathetic specialists is devoted to customizing each treatment plan to best serve the patient's needs. If necessary, we provide remote patient monitoring (RPM) devices to keep track of vital signs, facilitate regular check-ins, offer apps to help with dietary guidance and ensure after-hours support during challenging periods.

Bulimia treatment at home

When to try treating bulimia at home

There are many cases when a patient may benefit from bulimia treatment at home. In particular, those patients who are ready for outpatient care may find virtual eating disorder treatment to be just as effective as in-person care.6 Since this type of care is remote, however, it's important for a patient to have their disordered eating habits mostly under control when they enroll in a program.

There are also some cases when patients should expressly not try bulimia treatment at home, including when someone is experiencing:2

  • Severe depression or suicidal ideation
  • Injury during an episode of BN (for example, having to go to the emergency room for choking or uncontrolled vomiting)
  • Substance use issues
  • Diabetes or other health conditions like heart disease
  • Severe dehydration
  • Fainting spells

This is not a comprehensive list of serious health complications that may impede treating bulimia at home. If a patient is presenting any signs of a mental or physical health crisis or experiencing certain co-occurring mental health issues, it may also make them a better candidate for other levels of care, so it's important to speak to your doctors openly and honestly about these factors before enrolling in a program.

Benefits of bulimia treatment at home

Bulimia nervosa treatment at home offers a breadth of advantages over more traditional in-person treatment.

Many people with eating disorders are afraid or nervous to seek help and may deny or minimize their symptoms, with the stigma surrounding eating disorders only working to compound the issue.3 Seeking out treatment at home can help ease the anxiety around treatment by allowing someone to receive care in an environment where they already feel safe and comfortable.

Treating bulimia at home also increases access to care for those who don't live close to in-person facilities, those with difficulty around transportation or mobility, and those with less predictable schedules. And it can minimize time away from home for those who still have social obligations, like helping raise a family while receiving care.

However, we understand that home treatment for bulimia nervosa may not resonate with every patient, and that's okay. Open communication with your healthcare provider is key—at Within Health, we will work together to identify the most suitable path for your journey toward recovery.

Partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient programs
Personalized meal delivery
Insurance options
Dedicated care team

How to treat bulimia at home and recover safely

Bulimia nervosa is a serious eating disorder that can be challenging to overcome. While it is always recommended to seek professional help, there are some strategies for how to recover from bulimia at home that may make the process feel easier or smoother, including:4

  • Setting realistic goals
  • Avoiding trigger foods
  • Practicing self-care
  • Seeking support
  • Keeping a food diary

Bulimia patients who want or need a broader support system can also participate in online support groups. These virtual communities can help build a sense of camaraderie and offer forums for giving and receiving advice and sharing concerns or success stories.

Bulimia treatment at home with Within

No matter where you look for treatment, it is important for people with bulimia nervosa to seek out help. This condition is dangerous and can lead to deadly complications if left untreated.

If you'd like to explore the possibility of how to treat bulimia at home, Within Health may be able to help. Our website and app utilize patient video calls and messaging to offer therapeutic classes, support groups, and other types of care. We can help merge online and in-person treatment with additional tools, such as remote patient monitoring (RPM) devices, which can help track your vital signs and other important medical information.

Call to get help today

Recovery from bulimia nervosa is entirely possible. And with the right kind of help, it can be done in many cases without having to leave home.

Get help today

Disclaimer about "overeating": Within Health hesitatingly uses the word "overeating" because it is the term currently associated with this condition in society, however, we believe it inherently overlooks the various psychological aspects of this condition which are often interconnected with internalized diet culture, and a restrictive mindset about food. For the remainder of this piece, we will therefore be putting "overeating" in quotations to recognize that the diagnosis itself pathologizes behavior that is potentially hardwired and adaptive to a restrictive mindset.

Disclaimer about weight loss drugs: Within does not endorse the use of any weight loss drug or behavior and seeks to provide education on the insidious nature of diet culture. We understand the complex nature of disordered eating and eating disorders and strongly encourage anyone engaging in these behaviors to reach out for help as soon as possible. No statement should be taken as healthcare advice. All healthcare decisions should be made with your individual healthcare provider.

Resources

  1. Bulimia nervosa: Overview. (2018, May 10). Mayo Clinic. Accessed October 2023.
  2. Yager, J. (2022, October 26). Eating disorders: Overview of prevention and treatment. UpToDate. Accessed October 2023.
  3. What is Telemental Health? National Institute of Mental Health. Accessed October 2023.
  4. Bulimia nervosa: diagnosis. (2018, May 10). Mayo Clinic.
  5. Thiels, C., Schmidt, L., Treasure, J., et. al. (1998). Guided Self-Change for Bulimia Nervosa Incorporating Use of a Self-Care Manual. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 155(7), 947-953.
  6. Steiger, H., Booij, L., Crescenzi, O., Oliverio, S., Singer, I., Thaler, L., St-Hilaire, A., & Israel, M. (2022). In-person versus virtual therapy in outpatient eating-disorder treatment: A COVID-19 inspired study. The International Journal of Eating Disorders, 55(1), 145–150.

FAQs

Can you treat bulimia at home?

Yes. Within Health offers a program for treating eating disorders at home that is as effective as in-person treatment and fits seamlessly into everyday life.

Can you treat bulimia virtually?

Yes, but only with a comprehensive team provided by groups like Within Health. Contact our customer support for more resources that are available in your area.

Where can I find bulimia treatment online?

This can be tricky because some companies only offer basic counseling or weight-loss programs, which do not help those suffering from BN. At Within, we provide a team of healthcare professionals that address all aspects of BN, not just a few of the symptoms.

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