Bulimia is an eating disorder characterized by binging and purging, which often goes unnoticed or undiagnosed as sufferers may be of normal weight or overweight. New research suggests that talk therapy (cognitive behavior therapy) can help patients with bulimia.

Research by Dr. Phillipa P. J. Hay and colleagues at the University of Western Sydney in Australia was published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews asPsychological treatments for people with bulimia nervosa and binging.

The researchers looked at a number of studies of bulimic patients who were involved with a range of psychotherapies: this covered 3,054 adults living in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom who generally had weekly sessions for an average of about 16 weeks. They found that 37% of patients treated with CBT stopped binging; whereas only 3% of those who received no treatment stopped.

CBT was the most effective method, though other psychotherapy treatments also helped patients. Reuters explained that:

Bulimia-specific CBT targets overeating and subsequent self-induced vomiting or heavy laxative use that purges food from the body after binge eating episodes. Therapy focuses on dietary habits, fear of weight gain, and how to normalize thoughts about food and body image.

If you think you may have bulimia, which is characterized by binging on large quantities of food and then purging (vomiting or using laxatives) or starving yourself ... please don't suffer in silence.