CBT is Effective for Bulimia Nervosa

According to a new study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is a more effective and efficient treatment for binging and purging associated with bulimia nervosa than psychoanalytic psychotherapy. In the current study, 70 patients with bulimia nervosa were randomized to receive either 2 years of weekly psychoanalytic psychotherapy (n=34) or 20 sessions of CBT during a 5-month period (n=36). The Eating Disorder Examination Interview was administered to measure participant progress, before treatment at baseline, after 5 months, and after 2 years. While both treatments resulted in improvement, there was a significant difference in outcome between the two groups. After 5 months of treatment, 42% of patients in the CBT group had stopped binging and purging compared to 6% of patients in the psychoanalytic psychotherapy group. At 2 years, 44% in the CBT group and 15% in the psychoanalytic psychotherapy group had stopped binging and purging. Despite the considerable difference in treatment duration, CBT was more effective and generally faster in relieving binging and purging.

Poulsen, S, Lunn, S. Daniel S.I., Folke, S. Mathiesen, B.B., Katznelson, H. Fairburn, C.G. (2013). A Randomized Controlled Trial of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy or Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Bulimia Nervosa. American Journal of Psychiatry, doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.2013.12121511

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