Understanding Antidepressants And Their Role In Treating Bulimia

If you have an eating disorder like bulimia, then you should work with a physician to make sure that you get the medical assistance you need by looking at treatment options for eating disorders. This may require you to stay at a treatment center for a period of time. You also may be prescribed medication. Specifically, antidepressants are often used to treat bulimia. Keep reading if you want to understand some answers to common questions about medication use.

Why Are Antidepressants Prescribed?

Antidepressants are often prescribed for bulimia for a variety of reasons. The main reason is that the condition is typically caused by a neurotransmitter imbalance. Specifically, your body does not produce enough of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin is responsible for controlling mood, sexual function, appetite, and a variety of other bodily functions. 

A lack of serotonin in the body can produce depression issues as well as appetite problems that result in bulimia. Antidepressants like SSRIs can boost the amount of serotonin that is released into the body. This helps to regulate mood problems and appetite so that psychotherapy can better be used to treat your condition. 

SSRI medications are also successful in treating other psychological disorders that may contribute to the bulimia issue. For example, certain medicines can treat obsessive-compulsive disorder. OCD is a type of disorder that has a close relationship to bulimia. Specifically, obsessive thoughts about food and weight can lead to binging and purging. Treating the OCD is one way to reduce the urges so you no longer feel compelled to binge and purge.

SSRI medications can also be used to treat general anxiety, social anxiety, panic disorders, and other types of mood disorders. This means that co-occurring disorders can be treated by a single medication. This is ideal to reduce side effect issues.

How Do SSRIs Work?

SSRI medications may seem like miracle drugs since they can be used to treat a wide variety of disorders and conditions. While this is true, they work fairly simply by increasing the overall serotonin in the body. However, the medications do not force the body to produce more serotonin. There is more than enough serotonin in your body. However, the neurons in your brain do not absorb enough of the serotonin to create strong enough messages. Since neurotransmitters allow for the transmission of signals that inform the brain how to act, the reduced serotonin results in muted messages.

To help increase the strength of the messages, SSRI medicines force more of the neurotransmitter to remain active in between neurons. The neurons can then absorb more of the serotonin like it should.

SSRI medications do not work instantly to help neurons absorb more serotonin. It takes time for your brain chemistry to normalize and for the medication to do its job. It will typically take about two to six weeks before you start feeling better. This is why it is important to take your medicine as directed and also to seek out care from a psychotherapist in the meantime.

A psychotherapist can help you to identify triggers that cause you to binge and purge and the professional can also help you to develop healthy attitudes towards food. This way you can use the tools you learn in psychotherapy to fight your disease once the medication kicks in and you start feeling better. Keep in mind that medication doses sometimes need to be adjusted. If you do not feel better after a few weeks, then inform your physician so the dosage can be changed. 

If you have bulimia, then a multifaceted approach is likely required to help you overcome the illness. Make sure to speak with an eating disorder specialist so a plan can be worked out for you that involves both psychotherapy and medication.