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How to Tackle Bulimia Nervosa & Depression Together

Written by Dr. Gia Marson

Opportunities to find deeper powers within ourselves come when life seems most challenging

Joseph Campbell

As if overcoming a serious eating disorder isn’t challenging enough, more than half of people with bulimia nervosa also deal with a depressive disorder. More specifically, depression is a risk factor for, a maintaining factor of, and a consequence related to bulimia nervosa. (1) This may seem daunting but there is plenty of reason to have hope once you know how to harness your powers of healing.

According to newly published findings that reviewed 26 randomized controlled studies, the significance of improvement in symptoms of depression is predicted by positive changes in symptoms of bulimia nervosa.  Additionally, therapist-led interventions prove to be more effective than guided self-help. Further research will answer more specific questions about the interaction of these two illnesses. But for now, these findings are encouraging news for those dealing with both disorders.

So where does recovery begin? Start by treating bulimia nervosa with a therapist who specializes in eating disorders. By doing so, you will likely begin to notice improvement in the depression as well. Do you need a little more personalized inspiration to take these steps and get help? Below is an anonymous quote from a person who sought treatment and describes how changes in thinking and depression came after healthy actions with food.  

It was counterintuitive to me, but she was right that I had to change my behavior first, and the change in thinking would come later. I consider myself fully recovered now that my thoughts, emotions, and desires are those of a normal… person, and I would not have gotten here without blind trust in my psychologist.

(1) Linardon, J. et al (2017). Psychotherapy for bulimia nervosa on symptoms of depression: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. International Journal of Eating Disorders, October 2017. DOI: 10.1002/eat.22763.

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