Bulimia Treatment Centers in Los Angeles, CA


When a teenager develops bulimia nervosa, they fall prey to a mental health disorder that can hurt their physical and emotional health. Fortunately, quality professional bulimia treatment can turn the life of a young person around and help them recover from this disease. Our binge eating disorder treatment centers in Los Angeles helps adolescents and their families dispel the myths behind eating disorders like bulimia and understand what they are really about. This allows young people to heal and return home enjoying better health.

What is Bulimia Nervosa? 

Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder that causes a person to focus on their weight and weighs to get rid of calories they have consumed. The person may feel they are just dieting but, in fact, have a mental health disorder. There are two most common behaviors associated with bulimia. The first is binge eating, which is consuming a large amount of food in a short period of time, often in private. The second behavior is purging in an attempt to get rid of the food and any resulting calories. Purging can happen in several ways. Methods include vomiting after eating, using laxatives, diuretics, and enemas. 

Bulimia is about using unhealthy coping skills to feel some type of control of a person’s life when they feel helpless. Teenagers, in particular, can be vulnerable to this because they lack the life experience that adults have that would allow them to face the real issues head-on. Skilled medical staff and therapists can provide bulimia treatment that helps young people understand what their real issues are and recover from their eating disorder. 

Bulimia vs. Anorexia

Although both are well-known eating disorders, bulimia does differ from anorexia. As mentioned earlier, people that suffer from bulimia will binge eat and then later unhealthily purge their bodies of food to avoid gaining weight. People that suffer from anorexia, on the other hand, will excessively limit their food intake while also possibly excessively exercising to prevent themselves from gaining weight.

Causes of Bulimia

The exact reason why people develop bulimia nervosa is unknown. There are many risk factors that could play a role in the development of bulimia, though. For example, being female increases the chance that a person may develop an eating disorder such as bulimia nervosa one day. This is because females suffer from eating disorders at much higher rates than males do. 

Society is more critical of the size and appearance of the female body than it is the male body. Thus, females suffer from eating disorders at higher rates than males do. It’s important to still acknowledge, though, that men are still capable of developing eating disorders such as bulimia.  If a person comes from a family in which someone has previously suffered from an eating disorder, that person is also more likely to develop bulimia nervosa. In fact, if any mental illness runs in a person’s family, that person is more likely to develop an eating disorder such as bulimia one day. 

Psychological and emotional distress of any kind directly correlates to the development of eating disorders such as bulimia. Therefore, anyone that’s struggling with any sort of mental illness or psychological or emotional distress is at a heightened risk of becoming bulimic. Trauma and environmental stresses can also trigger the development of bulimia in individuals. Even just frequent dieting for general weight loss purposes can cause individuals to take on unhealthy behavior patterns. Such behavior patterns can cause individuals to eventually become bulimic.

Regardless of what triggered the development of the eating disorder, once a person becomes bulimic, he or she needs to achieve bulimia recovery by receiving treatment from a center that specializes in treating bulimia such as Montare Behavioral Health in Los Angeles, California. 

Signs & Symptoms of Bulimia Nervosa 

Teenagers start to pay attention to their looks and often focus on things like weight and body type. Because of this, it can prove difficult for parents to recognize when their child isn’t just going through a phase but has developed an eating disorder. This can delay getting the bulimia treatment needed to address the real problem. Signs and symptoms of bulimia to look out for include behavioral ones, such as:

  • Binge eating
  • Eating in secret
  • Hiding food wrappers and containers
  • Frequently going to the bathroom after meals
  • Vomiting without a medical explanation
  • Bruised or calloused knuckles from purging
  • Swollen cheeks or lymph glands
  • Periods of dieting or fasting
  • Wearing baggy clothes to hide weight loss
  • Using diet pills, laxatives, diuretics, or enemas
  • Counting calories and other nutritional information in their food 
  • Negative self-talk related to how they look

There also may be physical and medical signs of bulimia, including:

  • Changes in weight
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Headaches
  • Dental damage
  • Lightheadedness

A teenager who has bulimia may also feel anxious, depressed, or moody. They may also experience suicidal thoughts and feelings. 

Dangers of Bulimia

Someone suffering from bulimia puts themselves at risk of several physical dangers. When left untreated, these can cause major medical problems and even become deadly. Common dangers include the following: 

  • Dehydration
  • Electrolyte imbalances
  • Constipation, diarrhea, or irritable bowel syndrome
  • Dental damage
  • Heart damage
  • Anemia
  • Change in blood pressure
  • Loss of or irregular periods
  • Kidney damage
  • Gastroesophageal reflux
  • Attempts at suicide

Girl with bulimia in need of our Los Angeles California treatment centers

How is Bulimia Nervosa Diagnosed?

To diagnose an individual with bulimia nervosa, a doctor will first ask that person questions about his or her eating habits, weight loss methods, and physical symptoms. If the answers that the patient provides to the doctor’s questions make it sound like the patient could be suffering from bulimia, the doctor will then perform a physical exam on the patient. The technical criteria for bulimia are in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM -5). 

The doctors at our treatment centers for bulimia in Los Angeles, California will ask the patient to take some blood and urine tests along with an electrocardiogram, or physical exam that tests to see if the patient’s heart is experiencing issues. Psychological exams will also be issued at that time as well.

How to Prevent Bulimia Nervosa?

One way to help prevent people from developing bulimia nervosa is to teach them positive messages about food and their bodies. One can teach such messages by making eating meals a positive time in general. For example, families can eat meals together.  Another way to teach people positive messages about food and their bodies is to lead by example. By this, we mean not talking negatively about one’s own body around others, in particular, young children and teens.  Parents of children and teens should also make sure to not partake in extreme or fad dieting techniques around their kids. Instead, parents should eat healthily, in general, and encourage their children to do the same. That way, the children of such parents will grow up having a positive relationship with food and thus, not need to ever enter bulimia treatment. 

Why Go to Treatment for Bulimia? 

Eating disorders often start during the teen years. In fact, it is reported that 35-57% of adolescent girls use eating disordered behaviors, including fasting, taking diet pills and laxatives, crash dieting, and vomiting after eating. The sooner a person gets into treatment for bulimia, the quicker the cycle can be broken. Delaying bulimia treatment means a child will suffer longer and may carry their illness into adulthood. Because eating disorders can cause great physical damage and even drive some sufferers to commit suicide, it’s important to seek treatment as soon as the condition develops.

How Does Treatment for Bulimia Work? 

When someone receives bulimia treatment, they get to take advantage of more than one type of approach to recovery. To recover from bulimia, a full range of therapy options should be available to teenagers. These include several types of therapy, such as individual, group, family, and holistic therapies. Two types of talk therapy prove particularly beneficial for many people with eating disorders: cognitive-behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy. 

The goal of therapy modalities is to teach people to see their physical selves realistically and take the focus off body sizes and weight. This allows each young person to address the real issues and learn healthy coping techniques to avoid relapsing after they leave treatment. 

Benefits of Our Los Angeles Bulimia Treatment Centers

Our residential bulimia treatment takes young people away from the distractions of their lives and places them in a home-like setting where they can work on improving their mental health. Safety comes into play as another benefit of treatment because patients do not have access to things like diet pills, being able to purge, and other eating disorder behaviors. 

Our range of several types of therapy lets each teenager take advantage of the ones that will work best for them. Young people in treatment begin to gain the ability to see their real issues. Additionally, they gain the power to work on them. This makes the need to use bulimic behaviors become less of a focus or compulsion. Because of this, they are less likely to relapse when they return home.

We provide Exposure Response Prevention (ERP) that helps adolescents face common fears related to bulimia and overcome them. Our trained therapists take patients to potentially triggering places like restaurants, farmer’s markets, and stores. They learn to do things like order meals, make food purchases, and shop for clothes with a healthy mindset. 

Another important benefit of attending our treatment program pertains to the family. We keep them updated on how their child is doing and invite participation in family therapy. When families come together during the treatment process, it helps everyone learn to communicate better and help their loved one recover from bulimia.

Begin Treatment for Bulimia in Los Angeles, CA

When a teenager begins experimenting with trying to manipulate their weight, it can seem like just a diet. Sadly, this behavior can indicate they actually have an eating disorder and are in need of professional bulimia treatment. Montare Behavioral Health offers residential treatment centers in Los Angeles, California that teach young people how to overcome bulimia through evidence-based therapy and real-life experiences. We know how to talk to teenagers and show them how to get healthy.

If you have a child who needs our help, visit our admissions page today. We can show you how to begin the healing process for your loved one.