A new study has found that teens with bulimia who receive help from their parents recover a lot faster than those who only receive help from physicians and therapists.
• Researchers explain how field experts approach bulimia.
• Summary of the symptoms and dangers of bulimia.
• Description and results of the experiments that led to the researchers’ conclusions.
James Lock, co-lead author, MD, PhD, professor of behavioral sciences and psychiatry from the Stanford School of Medicine, gave a statement saying that “We have very little information about how best to address bulimia in adolescents, and have been depending on what we know about the efficacy of treatment in adults”.
But he went on to add that what works well for adult patients may not work so well for teen patients, as they have different needs.
Bulimia nervosa is a dangerous eating disorder characterized by numerous cycles of secretive binge eating, followed by an immediate purging of calories out of fear that one might gain weight. Methods used to rid the body of nutrition include vomiting, laxative use, or even excessive exercise.
Bulimia nervosa has been linked to both physical harm and psychological harm. Patients generally have poor self-image, and often feel shame or guilt. On the physical front, people suffering from the condition may develop irregular heartbeat, heart failure, tooth and / or gum disease, and dehydration.
Researchers from the Stanford School of Medicine and the University of Chicago came to the conclusion that parents’ help is essential to the recovery of teens with bulimia after conducting a six (6) month study with 130 subjects, all between the ages of 12 and 18, all suffering from either full bulimia nervosa or partial bulimia nervosa.
The subjects were randomly assigned to one (1) of three (3) treatments: the first group received family-based therapy, where parents offered their child help interrupting the abnormal eating behavior, the second group received cognitive behavioral therapy, where therapists helped patients change their abnormal food thoughts and poor body image, and the third group received supportive psychotherapy, which was only included to generate hypotheses and was not used in the primary analysis of the results.
The data showed that family-based therapy was the most effective in treating teens with bulimia. This differs from adults with bulimia. They are less responsive to family-based therapy, and more responsive to cognitive behavioral therapy.
At the end of the six (6) months, 39 percent (39%) of the subjects in the family-based therapy group had abandoned their abnormal eating behaviors, whereas only 20 percent (20%) of the subjects in the cognitive behavioral therapy group had abandoned their abnormal eating behaviors.
And six (6) months after this, 44 percent (44%) of the subjects in the family-based therapy group were still continuing the healthy eating pattern, whereas only 25 percent (25%) of the subjects in the cognitive behavioral therapy group were still continuing the healthy eating pattern.
The findings were published just last week, on Thursday (September 17, 2015), in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
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