Cognitive behavioral therapy or talk therapy can significantly help patients overcome bulimia and binge eating problems, reveals a new study.
People with bulimia experience cycles of disordered eating behavior in which they overeat and then purge, often by self-induced vomiting or taking laxatives.
Binge eating disorder includes bouts of overeating, but without purging, and researchers have linked it to obesity.
"Cognitive behavioral therapy is really the treatment of choice," said lead author Dr. Phillipa Hay, is foundation chair of mental health at the University of West Sydney in Australia.
"It has far and away the best evidence. It hadn't really been so definitively found in previous reviews," Hay added.
The review included 48 studies with 3,054 participants and strengthened earlier findings in favor of cognitive behavioral therapy.
It found that 37 percent of people completely stopped binge eating when given CBT focused on binging - while 3 percent of those assigned to a waiting list control group quit.
Cognitive behavioral treatment of bulimia or binge eating disorder typically involves 15 to 20 outpatient sessions with a therapist over a five-month period. CBT works by helping patients change the way they think about their behavior.
"CBT rests on the premise that unhealthy thoughts lie at both the roots of bulimia nervosa and in the maintenance of unhealthy eating behaviors," said Dr. Cynthia Bulik, is director of the University of North Carolina Eating Disorders Program at Chapel Hill.
"The goals of CBT are first to have the patient become his or her own detective and - via self-monitoring - start to understand their patterns of binge eating and purging and recognize and anticipate the cues (triggers) for their unhealthy behaviors," Bulik added.